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of Manila (Civil Case No.

79583, Branch XIV) on April 22, 1970, and another case (Civil Case
G.R. No. L-37733 September 30, 1982 No. 88343, Branch VII) on September 23, 1972, to recover losses the bank suffered. At the
same time the bank caused to be filed, based on the same acts, a criminal case with the Circuit
Criminal Court of the Fifth Judicial District at San Fernando, Pampanga, Criminal Case No.
ALMARIO T. SALTA, petitioner, CCCV-668, for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
vs.
HON. JUDGE JESUS DE VEYRA, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the CFI of Manila,
Branch XIV and PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, respondents. In the criminal case, the Court, on motion to dismiss filed by the defense, after the prosecution
has rested, granted the motion in a 64-page Resolution, the dispositive portion of which reads:
G.R. No. L-38035 September 30, 1982
CONFORMABLY WITH ALL THE FOREGOING, therefore, the Motion to
Dismiss (Demurrer) to Evidence) should be as it is hereby granted and
PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, petitioner, accused ALMARIO T. SALTA ACQUITTED of the offense charged in the
vs. Information the prosecution having failed to prove the essential ingredience
HON. AMANTE P. PURISIMA, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch VII and/or elements of the crime charged,. with costs de oficio.
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and ALMARIO SALTA, respondents.
With his acquittal in the criminal case, petitioner filed Motions to Dismiss in each of the two civil
Dakila F. Castro & Associates for petitioner. cases, based on Section 3(c), Rule I I I of the Revised Rules of Court which provides:

Nestor L. Kalaw, Edgardo M. Magtalas and Juan C. Gatmaitan for respondents, (c) extinction of the penal action does not carry with it extinction of the civil,
unless the extinction proceeds from a declaration in a final judgment that the
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fact from which the civil might arise did not exist. ...

DE CASTRO, J.: It is in the resolution of the motions to dismiss that Judges de Veyra and Purisima of the CFI of
Manila took diametrically opposing views, the former denying the motion, the latter granting it.
In these two cases, the only issue to be resolved is whether a decision of acquittal in a criminal
case operates to dismiss a separate civil action filed on the basis of the same facts as alleged in We sustain the order denying the motion to dismiss as issued by Judge de Veyra, which, for its
the criminal case, which is for violation of Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti- brevity, but clear and convincing, We quote as follows:
Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Having been acquitted by the Circuit Court of the charges of violation of the
The petitioner, Almario T. Salta, in G.R. No. L-37733, takes the affirmative stand on the issue as Anti-Graft Law, Defendant now seeks the dismissal of the civil case which
above indicated, as he made manifest in his motion to dismiss Civil Case No. 79583, of the CFI arose from the same set of facts. The motion to dismiss must be denied for
of Manila, Branch XIV, which was, however, denied by Hon. Jesus de Veyra, presiding. In a the reason that acquittal in the criminal case will not be an obstacle for the
similar motion, aforementioned petitioner sought to dismiss another civil case (Civil Case No. civil case to prosper unless in the criminal case the Court makes a finding
88343), pending before Branch VII of the same CFI of Manila, presided over by Hon. Amante that even civilly the accused would not be liable-there is no such a finding.
Purisima who granted the motion to dismiss. Apart from this, Plaintiff in this present civil case bases its case either on
fraud or negligence-evidence that only requires a preponderance, unlike
We have, therefore, the unedifying spectacle of two cases involving the same issue disposed of beyond reasonable doubt which is the requisite in criminal cases.
by two judges in a manner directly in opposition of each other. For a uniform ruling that would
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authoritatively settle this regrettable conflict of opinion, the two cases have been consolidated for The motion to dismiss is, therefore, denied for lack of merit.
a single decision. For purposes of convenience, however, although the petitioner in G.R. No. L-
37733, Almario T. Salta, is the private respondent in the other case, G.R. No. L-38035, in which To begin with, the filing in this case of a civil action separate from the criminal action is fully
the petitioner is the Philippine National Bank, We shall refer in this decision to Salta as 4
warranted under the provision of Article 33 of the New Civil Code. The criminal case is for the
"petitioner," and the PNB, as respondent bank." prosecution of an offense the main element of which is fraud, one of the kinds of crime
mentioned in the aforecited provision. Based on the same acts for which the criminal action was
Petitioner was an employee of the PNB assigned as Manager of the Malolos' branch. As such, filed, the civil actions very clearly alleged fraud and negligence as having given rise to the cause
his duty was, among others, to himself grant loans, or only to recommend the granting of loans, of action averred in the complaints. It needs hardly any showing to demonstrate this fact, which
depending on the amount of the loan applied for. In the performance of this particular duty, he is petitioner disputes, particularly as to the sufficiency of the allegation of fraud in the civil
supposed to exercise care and prudence, and with utmost diligence, observe the policies, rules complaints. Definitely, We hold that the following allegation in the complaints unmistakably
and regulations of the bank. shows that the complaints do contain sufficient averment of fraud:

In disregard of the pertinent rules, regulations and policies of the respondent bank, petitioner 13. That there was fraud committed by the defendant in granting the
indiscriminately granted certain loans mentioned in the complaints filed by PNB, in a manner aforesaid loans which rendered him liable for his acts, which fraud is
characterized by negligence, fraud and manifest partiality, and upon securities not positively and easily Identifiable in the manner and scheme
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commensurate with the amount of the loans. This is how the respondent bank found petitioner to aforementioned.
have discharged his duties as branch manager of the bank, and so it filed a civil action in the CFI
That there is allegation of negligence is also unmistakably shown when the complaint states that prosecuting officer alone without intervention from a private counsel representing the interest of
"the defendant as manager of Malolos Branch, in gross violation of the bank rules and the offended party. It is but just that when, as in the present instance, the prosecution of the
regulations, and without exercising necessary prudence, ... extended a number of credit criminal case is left to the government prosecutor to undertake, any mistake or mishanding of
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accommodations . . ." On this allegation of negligence alone, the civil case may be maintained the case committed by the latter should not work to the prejudice of the offended party whose
as an entirely independent action from the criminal case. Consequently, Section 3(c), Rule III of interest would thus be protected by the measure contemplated by Article 33 and Article
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the Revised Rules of Court has no application thereto. 2177 of the New Civil Code.

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The ruling in the case of PNB vs. Bagamaspad, involving the same respondent herein, and Prescinding from the foregoing, it should be stated with emphasis, for its decisive effect on how
also against its branch manager, unherringly charts the course to be followed in the final the issue raised in this case should be disposed of, that in no manner may the resolution of the
resolution of these cases. Thus - Circuit Criminal Court be read as positively stating that the fact from which the civil action might
arise did not exist, as required in the provision relied upon by petitioner, Section 3(c), Rule III of
The trial court based in the civil liability the appellants herein on the the Revised Rules of Court. As Judge de Veyra put it, "acquittal in the criminal case will not be
provisions of Article 1718 and 1719 of the Civil Code, defining and an obstacle for the civil case to prosper unless in the criminal case the Court makes a finding
enumerating the duties and obligations of an agent and his liability for failure that even civilly, the accused would not be liable-there is no such finding." There, indeed, could
to comply with such duty.. . . A careful study and consideration of the not be such finding because the criminal court, aware that the civil case is not before it, would be
record, however, convinces us and we agree with the trial court that acting in excess of jurisdiction if it were to make any pronouncement in effect disposing of a
the defendants-appellants have not only violated instructions of the plaintiff case pending before another court, over which it had not acquired jurisdiction. Even if this were
Bank, including things which the bank wanted done or not done, all of which authorized by the Rules of Court, the validity of such rule would be open to serious doubt as it
were fully understood by them but they (appellants) also violated standing would be affecting a matter of jurisdiction, which is substantive in character, considering the
regulations regarding the granting of loans; and what is more, thru their constitutional limitation of the rule-making power of the Supreme Court, that said rules should
carelessness, laxity and negligence, they allowed bans to be granted to not increase or diminish substantive rights.
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persons who were not entitled to secure loans.
WHEREFORE, the order denying the motion to dismiss issued in Civil Case No. 79583 of the
If petitioner's civil liability is, as alleged in the complaint, based on negligence, apart from the Court of First Instance of Manila (G. R. No. L-37733) is affirmed, while the order granting a
averment of fraud, then on the strength of the aforesaid ruling, the civil action can be maintained similar motion in Civil Case No. 88343 of the same court (G. R. No. L-38035) is reversed. Let the
regardless of the outcome of the criminal action. records of these two (2) cases be remanded to their respective courts of origin for proper further
proceedings. No costs.
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The opinion of former Justice J.B.L. Reyes in Dionisio vs. Alvendia is not only enlightening, but
authoritative. Thus — SO ORDERED.

. . . in the case of an independent civil actions under the Civil Code, the
result of the criminal case, whether acquittal or conviction, would be entirety
irrelevant to the civil action. This seems to be the spirit of the law when it
decided to make these actions 'entirely separate and distinct' from the
criminal action (Articles 22, 33, 34 and 2177). Hence in these cases, I think
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Rule 107 Sec. l(d) does not apply.

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It is significant to note that under Article 31 of the New Civil Code, it is made clear that the civil
action permitted therein to be filed separately from the criminal action may proceed
independently of the criminal proceedings "regardless of the result of the latter." It seems
perfectly reasonable to conclude that the civil actions mentioned in Article 33, permitted in the
same manner to be filed separately from the criminal case, may proceed similarly regardless of
the result of the criminal case.

Indeed, when the law has allowed a civil case related to a criminal case, to be filed separately
and to proceed independently even during the pendency of the latter case, the intention is patent
to make the court's disposition of the criminal case of no effect whatsoever on the separate civil
case. This must be so because the offenses specified in Article 33 are of such a nature, unlike
other offenses not mentioned, that they may be made the subject of a separate civil action
because of the distinct separability of their respective juridical cause or basis of action. This is
clearly illustrated in the case of swindling, a specie of an offense committed by means of fraud,
where the civil case may be filed separately and proceed independently of the criminal case,
regardless of the result of the latter.

The wisdom of the provision of Article 33 of the New Civil Code is to be found in the fact that
when the civil action is reserved to be filed separately, the criminal case is prosecuted by the
G.R. No. 166836 September 4, 2013 SEC because BF Homes was under receivership; (d) in receivership cases, it was essential to
suspend all claims against a distressed corporation in order to enable the receiver to effectively
SAN MIGUEL PROPERTIES, INC., PETITIONER, exercise its powers free from judicial and extra-judicial interference that could unduly hinder the
vs. rescue of the distressed company; and (e) the lots involved were under custodia legis in view of
SEC. HERNANDO B. PEREZ, ALBERT C. AGUIRRE, TEODORO B. ARCENAS, JR., MAXY the pending receivership proceedings, necessarily stripping the OCP Las Piñas of the
S. ABAD, JAMES G. BARBERS, STEPHEN N. SARINO, ENRIQUE N. ZALAMEA, JR., jurisdiction to proceed in the action.
MARIANO M. MARTIN, ORLANDO O. SAMSON, CATHERINE R. AGUIRRE, AND ANTONIO
V. AGCAOILI, RESPONDENTS. On October 10, 2000, San Miguel Properties filed a motion to suspend proceedings in the OCP
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Las Piñas, citing the pendency of BF Homes’ receivership case in the SEC. In its
DECISION comment/opposition, BF Homes opposed the motion to suspend. In the meantime, however, the
SEC terminated BF Homes’ receivership on September 12, 2000, prompting San Miguel
Properties to file on October 27, 2000 a reply to BF Homes’ comment/opposition coupled with a
BERSAMIN, J.: motion to withdraw the sought suspension of proceedings due to the intervening termination of
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the receivership.
The pendency of an administrative case for specific performance brought by the buyer of
residential subdivision lots in the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) to compel 10
On October 23, 2000, the OCP Las Piñas rendered its resolution, dismissing San Miguel
the seller to deliver the transfer certificates of title (TCTs) of the fully paid lots is properly Properties’ criminal complaint for violation of Presidential Decree No. 957 on the ground that no
considered a ground to suspend a criminal prosecution for violation of Section 25 of Presidential action could be filed by or against a receiver without leave from the SEC that had appointed him;
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Decree No. 957 on the ground of a prejudicial question. The administrative determination is a that the implementation of the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 957 exclusively pertained
logical antecedent of the resolution of the criminal charges based on non-delivery of the TCTs. under the jurisdiction of the HLURB; that there existed a prejudicial question necessitating the
suspension of the criminal action until after the issue on the liability of the distressed BF Homes
Antecedents was first determined by the SEC en banc or by the HLURB; and that no prior resort to
administrative jurisdiction had been made; that there appeared to be no probable cause to indict
Petitioner San Miguel Properties Inc. (San Miguel Properties), a domestic corporation engaged respondents for not being the actual signatories in the three deeds of sale.
in the real estate business, purchased in 1992, 1993 and April 1993 from B.F. Homes, Inc. (BF
Homes), then represented by Atty. Florencio B. Orendain (Orendain) as its duly authorized On February 20, 2001, the OCP Las Piñas denied San Miguel Properties’ motion for
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rehabilitation receiver appointed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), 130 reconsideration filed on November 28, 2000, holding that BF Homes’ directors and officers could
residential lots situated in its subdivision BF Homes Parañaque, containing a total area of 44,345 not be held liable for the non-delivery of the TCTs under Presidential Decree No. 957 without a
square meters for the aggregate price of ₱106,248,000.00. The transactions were embodied in definite ruling on the legality of Atty. Orendain’s actions; and that the criminal liability would
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three separate deeds of sale. The TCTs covering the lots bought under the first and second attach only after BF Homes did not comply with a directive of the HLURB directing it to deliver
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deeds were fully delivered to San Miguel Properties, but 20 TCTs covering 20 of the 41 parcels the titles.
of land with a total area of 15,565 square meters purchased under the third deed of sale,
executed in April 1993 and for which San Miguel Properties paid the full price of San Miguel Properties appealed the resolutions of the OCP Las Piñas to the Department of
₱39,122,627.00, were not delivered to San Miguel Properties. Justice (DOJ), but the DOJ Secretary denied the appeal on October 15, 2001, holding:

On its part, BF Homes claimed that it withheld the delivery of the 20 TCTs for parcels of land After a careful review of the evidence on record, we find no cogent reason to disturb the ruling of
purchased under the third deed of sale because Atty. Orendain had ceased to be its the City Prosecutor of Las Piñas City. Established jurisprudence supports the position taken by
rehabilitation receiver at the time of the transactions after being meanwhile replaced as receiver the City Prosecutor concerned.
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by FBO Network Management, Inc. on May 17, 1989 pursuant to an order from the SEC.
There is no dispute that aside from the instant complaint for violation of PD 957, there is still
BF Homes refused to deliver the 20 TCTs despite demands. Thus, on August 15, 2000, San pending with the Housing and Land Use Resulatory Board (HLURB, for short) a complaint for
Miguel Properties filed a complaint-affidavit in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Las Piñas City specific performance where the HLURB is called upon to inquire into, and rule on, the validity of
(OCP Las Piñas) charging respondent directors and officers of BF Homes with non-delivery of the sales transactions involving the lots in question and entered into by Atty. Orendain for and in
titles in violation of Section 25, in relation to Section 39, both of Presidential Decree No. 957 (I.S. behalf of BF Homes.
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No. 00-2256).
As early as in the case of Solid Homes, Inc. vs. Payawal, 177 SCRA 72, the Supreme Court had
At the same time, San Miguel Properties sued BF Homes for specific performance in the HLURB ruled that the HLURB has exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving real estate business and
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(HLURB Case No. REM-082400-11183), praying to compel BF Homes to release the 20 TCTs practices under PD 957. This is reiterated in the subsequent cases of Union Bank of the
in its favor. Philippines versus HLURB, G.R. [No.] 953364, June 29, 1992 and C.T. Torres Enterprises vs.
Hilionada, 191 SCRA 286.
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In their joint counter-affidavit submitted in I.S. No. 00-2256, respondent directors and officers of
BF Homes refuted San Miguel Properties’ assertions by contending that: (a) San Miguel The said ruling simply means that unless and until the HLURB rules on the validity of the
Properties’ claim was not legally demandable because Atty. Orendain did not have the authority transactions involving the lands in question with specific reference to the capacity of Atty.
to sell the 130 lots in 1992 and 1993 due to his having been replaced as BF Homes’ Orendain to bind BF Homes in the said transactions, there is as yet no basis to charge criminally
rehabilitation receiver by the SEC on May 17, 1989; (b) the deeds of sale conveying the lots respondents for non-delivery of the subject land titles. In other words, complainant cannot invoke
were irregular for being undated and unnotarized; (c) the claim should have been brought to the
the penal provision of PD 957 until such time that the HLURB shall have ruled and decided on All told, to sustain the petitioner’s theory that the result of the HLURB proceedings is not
the validity of the transactions involving the lots in question. determinative of the criminal liability of private respondents under PD 957 would be to espouse
an absurdity. If we were to assume that the HLURB finds BFHI under no obligation to delve the
WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby DENIED. subject titles, it would be highly irregular and contrary to the ends of justice to pursue a criminal
case against private respondents for the non-delivery of certificates of title which they are not
12 under any legal obligation to turn over in the first place. (Bold emphasis supplied)
SO ORDERED. (Emphasis supplied)

13 On a final note, absent grave abuse of discretion on the part of the prosecutorial arm of the
The DOJ eventually denied San Miguel Properties’ motion for reconsideration. government as represented by herein public respondent, courts will not interfere with the
discretion of a public prosecutor in prosecuting or dismissing a complaint filed before him. A
Ruling of the CA public prosecutor, by the nature of his office, is under no compulsion to file a criminal information
where no clear legal justification has been shown, and no sufficient evidence of guilt nor prima
Undaunted, San Miguel Properties elevated the DOJ’s resolutions to the CA on certiorari and facie case has been established by the complaining party.
mandamus (C.A.-G.R. SP No. 73008), contending that respondent DOJ Secretary had acted
with grave abuse in denying their appeal and in refusing to charge the directors and officers of WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus is hereby
BF Homes with the violation of Presidential Decree No. 957. San Miguel Properties submitted DENIED. The Resolutions dated 15 October 2001 and 12 July 2002 of the Department of Justice
the issue of whether or not HLURB Case No. REM-082400-11183 presented a prejudicial are AFFIRMED.
question that called for the suspension of the criminal action for violation of Presidential Decree
No. 957. SO ORDERED.
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14
In its assailed decision promulgated on February 24, 2004 in C.A.-G.R. SP No. 73008, the CA The CA denied San Miguel Properties’ motion for reconsideration on January 18, 2005.
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dismissed San Miguel Properties’ petition, holding and ruling as follows:
Issues
From the foregoing, the conclusion that may be drawn is that the rule on prejudicial question
generally applies to civil and criminal actions only.
Aggrieved, San Miguel Properties is now on appeal, raising the following for consideration and
resolution, to wit:
However, an exception to this rule is provided in Quiambao vs. Osorio cited by the respondents.
In this case, an issue in an administrative case was considered a prejudicial question to the
resolution of a civil case which, consequently, warranted the suspension of the latter until after THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE, SERIOUS AND REVERSIBLE ERRORS
termination of the administrative proceedings. WHEN IT DISMISSED PETITIONER’S CERTIORARI AND MANDAMUS PETITION TO ORDER
AND DIRECT RESPONDENT SECRETARY TO INDICT RESPONDENTS FOR VIOLATION OF
SECTION 25, PD. 957 IN THAT:
Quiambao vs. Osorio is not the only instance when the Supreme Court relaxed the application of
the rule on prejudicial question.
THE OBLIGATION OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS TO DELIVER TO PETITIONER THE TITLES
TO 20 FULLY-PAID LOTS IS MANDATED BY SECTION 25, PD 957. IN FACT, THE OFFICE
In Tamin vs. CA involving two (2) civil actions, the Highest Court similarly applied the rule on OF THE PRESIDENT HAD DULY CONFIRMED THE SAME PER ITS DECISION DATED 27
prejudicial question when it directed petitioner therein to put up a bond for just compensation JANUARY 2005 IN O.P. CASE NO. 03-E-203, ENTITLED "SMPI V. BF HOMES, INC.".
should the demolition of private respondents’ building proved to be illegal as a result of a
pending cadastral suit in another tribunal.
A FORTIORI, PRIVATE RESPONDENTS’ FAILURE AND/OR REFUSAL TO DELIVER TO
PETITIONER THE SUBJECT TITLES CONSTITUTES CRIMINAL OFFENSE PER SECTIONS
City of Pasig vs. COMELEC is yet another exception where a civil action involving a boundary 25 AND 39, PD 957 FOR WHICH IT IS THE MINISTERIAL DUTY OF RESPONDENT
dispute was considered a prejudicial question which must be resolved prior to an administrative SECRETARY TO INDICT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS THEREFOR.
proceeding for the holding of a plebiscite on the affected areas.
IN ANY EVENT, THE HLURB CASE DOES NOT PRESENT A "PREJUDICIAL QUESTION" TO
In fact, in Vidad vs. RTC of Negros Oriental, Br. 42, it was ruled that in the interest of good order, THE SUBJECT CRIMINAL CASE SINCE THE FORMER INVOLVES AN ISSUE SEPARATE
courts can suspend action in one case pending determination of another case closely AND DISTINCT FROM THE ISSUE INVOLVED IN THE LATTER. CONSEQUENTLY, THE
interrelated or interlinked with it. HLURB CASE HAS NO CORRELATION, TIE NOR LINKAGE TO THE PRESENT CRIMINAL
CASE WHICH CAN PROCEED INDEPENDENTLY THEREOF.
It thus appears that public respondent did not act with grave abuse of discretion x x x when he
applied the rule on prejudicial question to the instant proceedings considering that the issue on IN FACT, THE CRIMINAL CULPABILITY OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS EMANATE FROM
the validity of the sale transactions x x x by x x x Orendain in behalf of BF Homes, Inc., is closely THEIR MALA PROHIBITA NON-DELIVERY OF THE TITLES TO TWENTY (20) FULLY-PAID
intertwined with the purported criminal culpability of private respondents, as officers/directors of PARCELS OF LAND TO PETITIONER, AND NOT FROM THEIR NON-COMPLIANCE WITH
BF Homes, Inc., arising from their failure to deliver the titles of the parcels of land included in the THE HLURB’S RULING IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE CASE.
questioned conveyance.
NONETHELESS, BY DECREEING THAT PETITIONER’S CRIMINAL COMPLAINT IS
PREMATURE, BOTH THE COURT OF APPEALS AND RESPONDENT SECRETARY HAD
IMPLIEDLY ADMITTED THE EXISTENCE OF SUFFICIENT PROBABLE CAUSE AGAINST Hence, the HLURB should take jurisdiction over respondent’s complaint because it pertains to
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PRIVATE RESPONDENTS FOR THE CRIME CHARGED. matters within the HLURB’s competence and expertise. The proceedings before the HLURB
should not be suspended.
It is relevant at this juncture to mention the outcome of the action for specific performance and
damages that San Miguel Properties instituted in the HLURB simultaneously with its filing of the While We sustain the Office of the President, the case must be remanded to the HLURB. This is
complaint for violation of Presidential Decree No. 957. On January 25, 2002, the HLURB Arbiter in recognition of the doctrine of primary jurisdiction. The fairest and most equitable course to
ruled that the HLURB was inclined to suspend the proceedings until the SEC resolved the issue take under the circumstances is to remand the case to the HLURB for the proper presentation of
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of Atty. Orendain’s authority to enter into the transactions in BF Homes’ behalf, because the final evidence.
resolution by the SEC was a logical antecedent to the determination of the issue involved in the
complaint before the HLURB. Upon appeal, the HLURB Board of Commissioners (HLURB Did the Secretary of Justice commit grave abuse of discretion in upholding the dismissal of San
Board), citing the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, affirmed the HLURB Arbiter’s decision, holding Miguel Properties’ criminal complaint for violation of Presidential Decree No. 957 for lack of
that although no prejudicial question could arise, strictly speaking, if one case was civil and the probable cause and for reason of a prejudicial question?
other administrative, it nonetheless opted to suspend its action on the cases pending the final
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outcome of the administrative proceeding in the interest of good order.
The question boils down to whether the HLURB administrative case brought to compel the
delivery of the TCTs could be a reason to suspend the proceedings on the criminal complaint for
Not content with the outcome, San Miguel Properties appealed to the Office of the President the violation of Section 25 of Presidential Decree No. 957 on the ground of a prejudicial
(OP), arguing that the HLURB erred in suspending the proceedings. On January 27, 2004, the question.
OP reversed the HLURB Board’s ruling, holding thusly:
Ruling of the Court
The basic complaint in this case is one for specific performance under Section 25 of the
Presidential Decree (PD) 957 – "The Subdivision and Condominium Buyers’ Protective."
The petition has no merit.
As early as August 1987, the Supreme Court already recognized the authority of the HLURB, as
successor agency of the National Housing Authority (NHA), to regulate, pursuant to PD 957, in 1.
relation to PD 1344, the real estate trade, with exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and decide
cases "involving specific performance of contractual and statutory obligation filed by buyers of Action for specific performance, even if pending in the HLURB, an administrative agency, raises
subdivision lots … against the owner, developer, dealer, broker or salesman," the HLURB, in the a prejudicial question BF Homes’ posture that the administrative case for specific performance in
exercise of its adjudicatory powers and functions, "must interpret and apply contracts, determine the HLURB posed a prejudicial question that must first be determined before the criminal case
the rights of the parties under these contracts and award[s] damages whenever appropriate." for violation of Section 25 of Presidential Decree No. 957 could be resolved is correct.

Given its clear statutory mandate, the HLURB’s decision to await for some forum to decide – if A prejudicial question is understood in law to be that which arises in a case the resolution of
ever one is forthcoming – the issue on the authority of Orendain to dispose of subject lots before which is a logical antecedent of the issue involved in the criminal case, and the cognizance of
it peremptorily resolves the basic complaint is unwarranted, the issues thereon having been which pertains to another tribunal. It is determinative of the criminal case, but the jurisdiction to
joined and the respective position papers and the evidence of the parties having been try and resolve it is lodged in another court or tribunal. It is based on a fact distinct and separate
submitted. To us, it behooved the HLURB to adjudicate, with the usual dispatch, the right and from the crime but is so intimately connected with the crime that it determines the guilt or
22
obligation of the parties in line with its own appreciation of the obtaining facts and applicable law. innocence of the accused. The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid
23
To borrow from Mabubha Textile Mills Corporation vs. Ongpin, it does not have to rely on the conflicting decisions. The essential elements of a prejudicial question are provided in Section
19
finding of others to discharge this adjudicatory functions. 7, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court, to wit: (a) the previously instituted civil action involves an issue
similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the subsequent criminal action, and (b) the
After its motion for reconsideration was denied, BF Homes appealed to the CA (C.A.-G.R. SP resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.
No. 83631), raising as issues: (a) whether or not the HLURB had the jurisdiction to decide with
finality the question of Atty. Orendain’s authority to enter into the transaction with San Miguel The concept of a prejudicial question involves a civil action and a criminal case. Yet, contrary to
Properties in BF Homes’ behalf, and rule on the rights and obligations of the parties to the San Miguel Properties’ submission that there could be no prejudicial question to speak of
contract; and (b) whether or not the HLURB properly suspended the proceedings until the SEC because no civil action where the prejudicial question arose was pending, the action for specific
resolved with finality the matter regarding such authority of Atty. Orendain. performance in the HLURB raises a prejudicial question that sufficed to suspend the
24
proceedings determining the charge for the criminal violation of Section 25 of Presidential
20
The CA promulgated its decision in C.A.-G.R. SP No. 83631, decreeing that the HLURB, not Decree No. 957. This is true simply because the action for specific performance was an action
the SEC, had jurisdiction over San Miguel Properties’ complaint. It affirmed the OP’s decision civil in nature but could not be instituted elsewhere except in the HLURB, whose jurisdiction over
25
and ordered the remand of the case to the HLURB for further proceedings on the ground that the the action was exclusive and original.
case involved matters within the HLURB’s competence and expertise pursuant to the doctrine of
primary jurisdiction, viz: The determination of whether the proceedings ought to be suspended because of a prejudicial
question rested on whether the facts and issues raised in the pleadings in the specific
[T]he High Court has consistently ruled that the NHA or the HLURB has jurisdiction over performance case were so related with the issues raised in the criminal complaint for the
complaints arising from contracts between the subdivision developer and the lot buyer or those violation of Presidential Decree No. 957, such that the resolution of the issues in the former
aimed at compelling the subdivision developer to comply with its contractual and statutory would be determinative of the question of guilt in the criminal case. An examination of the nature
obligations. of the two cases involved is thus necessary.
An action for specific performance is the remedy to demand the exact performance of a contract Doctrine of primary jurisdiction is applicable
in the specific form in which it was made, or according to the precise terms agreed upon by a
26
party bound to fulfill it. Evidently, before the remedy of specific performance is availed of, there That the action for specific performance was an administrative case pending in the HLURB,
27
must first be a breach of the contract. The remedy has its roots in Article 1191 of the Civil instead of in a court of law, was of no consequence at all. As earlier mentioned, the action for
Code, which reads: specific performance, although civil in nature, could be brought only in the HLURB. This situation
conforms to the doctrine of primary jurisdiction. There has been of late a proliferation of
Article 1191. The power to rescind obligations is implied in reciprocal ones, in case one of the administrative agencies, mostly regulatory in function. It is in favor of these agencies that the
obligors should not comply with what is incumbent upon him. doctrine of primary jurisdiction is frequently invoked, not to defeat the resort to the judicial
adjudication of controversies but to rely on the expertise, specialized skills, and knowledge of
The injured party may choose between the fulfillment and the rescission of the obligation, with such agencies in their resolution. The Court has observed that one thrust of the proliferation is
the payment of damages in either case. He may also seek rescission, even after he has chosen that the interpretation of contracts and the determination of private rights under contracts are no
31
fulfillment, if the latter should become impossible. x x x (Emphasis supplied) longer a uniquely judicial function exercisable only by the regular courts.

Accordingly, the injured party may choose between specific performance or rescission with The doctrine of primary jurisdiction has been increasingly called into play on matters demanding
damages. As presently worded, Article 1191 speaks of the remedy of rescission in reciprocal the special competence of administrative agencies even if such matters are at the same time
obligations within the context of Article 1124 of the former Civil Code which used the term within the jurisdiction of the courts. A case that requires for its determination the expertise,
resolution. The remedy of resolution applied only to reciprocal obligations, such that a party’s specialized skills, and knowledge of some administrative board or commission because it
breach of the contract equated to a tacit resolutory condition that entitled the injured party to involves technical matters or intricate questions of fact, relief must first be obtained in an
rescission. The present article, as in the former one, contemplates alternative remedies for the appropriate administrative proceeding before a remedy will be supplied by the courts although
injured party who is granted the option to pursue, as principal actions, either the rescission or the the matter comes within the jurisdiction of the courts. The application of the doctrine does not
specific performance of the obligation, with payment of damages in either case.
28 call for the dismissal of the case in the court but only for its suspension until after the matters
32
within the competence of the administrative body are threshed out and determined.
On the other hand, Presidential Decree No. 957 is a law that regulates the sale of subdivision
lots and condominiums in view of the increasing number of incidents wherein "real estate To accord with the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, the courts cannot and will not determine a
subdivision owners, developers, operators, and/or sellers have reneged on their representations controversy involving a question within the competence of an administrative tribunal, the
and obligations to provide and maintain properly" the basic requirements and amenities, as well controversy having been so placed within the special competence of the administrative tribunal
as of reports of alarming magnitude of swindling and fraudulent manipulations perpetrated by under a regulatory scheme. In that instance, the judicial process is suspended pending referral
29
unscrupulous subdivision and condominium sellers and operators, such as failure to deliver to the administrative body for its view on the matter in dispute. Consequently, if the courts
titles to the buyers or titles free from liens and encumbrances. Presidential Decree No. 957 cannot resolve a question that is within the legal competence of an administrative body prior to
authorizes the suspension and revocation of the registration and license of the real estate the resolution of that question by the latter, especially where the question demands the exercise
subdivision owners, developers, operators, and/or sellers in certain instances, as well as of sound administrative discretion requiring the special knowledge, experience, and services of
provides the procedure to be observed in such instances; it prescribes administrative fines and the administrative agency to ascertain technical and intricate matters of fact, and a uniformity of
other penalties in case of violation of, or non-compliance with its provisions. ruling is essential to comply with the purposes of the regulatory statute administered, suspension
33
or dismissal of the action is proper.
Conformably with the foregoing, the action for specific performance in the HLURB would
determine whether or not San Miguel Properties was legally entitled to demand the delivery of 3.
the remaining 20 TCTs, while the criminal action would decide whether or not BF Homes’
directors and officers were criminally liable for withholding the 20 TCTs. The resolution of the Other submissions of petitioner are unwarranted
former must obviously precede that of the latter, for should the HLURB hold San Miguel
Properties to be not entitled to the delivery of the 20 TCTs because Atty. Orendain did not have It is not tenable for San Miguel Properties to argue that the character of a violation of Section 25
the authority to represent BF Homes in the sale due to his receivership having been terminated of Presidential Decree No. 957 as malum prohibitum, by which criminal liability attached to BF
by the SEC, the basis for the criminal liability for the violation of Section 25 of Presidential Homes’ directors and officers by the mere failure to deliver the TCTs, already rendered the
Decree No. 957 would evaporate, thereby negating the need to proceed with the criminal case. 34
suspension unsustainable. The mere fact that an act or omission was malum prohibitum did
not do away with the initiative inherent in every court to avoid an absurd result by means of
Worthy to note at this juncture is that a prejudicial question need not conclusively resolve the rendering a reasonable interpretation and application of the procedural law. Indeed, the
guilt or innocence of the accused. It is enough for the prejudicial question to simply test the procedural law must always be given a reasonable construction to preclude absurdity in its
35
sufficiency of the allegations in the information in order to sustain the further prosecution of the application. Hence, a literal application of the principle governing prejudicial questions is to be
criminal case. A party who raises a prejudicial question is deemed to have hypothetically eschewed if such application would produce unjust and absurd results or unreasonable
admitted that all the essential elements of the crime have been adequately alleged in the consequences.
information, considering that the Prosecution has not yet presented a single piece of evidence
on the indictment or may not have rested its case. A challenge to the allegations in the San Miguel Properties further submits that respondents could not validly raise the prejudicial
information on the ground of prejudicial question is in effect a question on the merits of the question as a reason to suspend the criminal proceedings because respondents had not
30
criminal charge through a non-criminal suit. themselves initiated either the action for specific performance or the criminal action.1âwphi1 It
contends that the defense of a prejudicial question arising from the filing of a related case could
2. only be raised by the party who filed or initiated said related case.
The submission is unfounded. The rule on prejudicial question makes no distinction as to who is
allowed to raise the defense. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemos. When the law
36
makes no distinction, we ought not to distinguish.

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on February 24, 2004 by the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP NO. 73008; and ORDERS petitioner to pay the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.
VINCENT E. OMICTIN, G.R. No.148004
Petitioner, It appears that on January 7, 1999, private respondent filed SEC Case No. 01-99-6185 for the
Present: declaration of nullity of the respective appointments of Alex Y. Tan and petitioner as President
Ad Interim and Operations Manager Ad Interim of Saag Phils., Inc., declaration of dividends,
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson, recovery of share in the profits, involuntary dissolution and the appointment of a receiver,
- versus - SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, recovery of damages and an application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and injunction
[3]
CORONA, against Saag (S) Pte. Ltd., Nicholas Ng, Janifer Yeo, Tan and petitioner.
AZCUNA, and
GARCIA, JJ. In the action before the SEC, private respondent averred that Saag (S) Pte. Ltd. is a foreign
HON. COURT OF APPEALS corporation organized and existing under the laws of Singapore, and is fully owned by Saag
(Special Twelfth Division) and Corporation (Bhd). On July 1, 1994, he was appointed as Area Sales Manager in
GEORGE I. LAGOS, the Philippines by Thiang Shiang Hiang, Manager of Saag (S) Pte. Ltd. Pursuant to his
Respondents. Promulgated: appointment, respondent was authorized to organize a local joint venture corporation to be
January 22, 2007 known as Saag Philippines, Inc. for the wholesale trade and service of industrial products for oil,
DECISION gas and power industries in the Philippines.

AZCUNA, J.: On September 9, 1994, Saag Philippines, Inc. was incorporated with Saag (S) Pte. Ltd. as the
majority stockholder. Private respondent was appointed to the board of directors, along with
Rommel I. Lagos, Jose E. Geronimo, Gan Ching Lai and Thiang Shiang Hiang, and was elected
[1]
This is a petition for certiorari with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction seeking the president of the domestic corporation.
nullification of the decision rendered by the Court of Appeals (CA) on June 30, 2000, and its
resolution, dated March 5, 2001 in CA-G.R. SP No. 55834 entitled George I. Lagos v. Hon. Later, due to intra-corporate disputes, Gan and Thiang resigned and divested their shares in
Reinato G. Quilala, Presiding Judge of RTC, Br. 57, Makati, Hon. Elizabeth Tayo Chua, Asst. Saag Corporation (Bhd), thereby resulting in a change in the controlling interest in Saag (S) Pte.
City Prosecutor, Makati City, and Vincent E. Omictin. Ltd.

In its assailed decision, the CA declared the existence of a prejudicial question and ordered the Barely three months after, or on June 23, 1998, private respondent resigned his post as
suspension of the criminal proceedings initiated by petitioner Vincent E. Omictin on behalf of president of Saag Phils., Inc. while still retaining his position as a director of the
[4]
Saag Phils., Inc. against private respondent George I. Lagos, in view of a pending case before company. According to private respondent, the joint venture agreement (JVA) between him or
the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed by the latter against the former, Saag Pte. Saag Phils., Inc. and Saag (S) Pte. Ltd. provided that should the controlling interest in the latter
(S) Ltd., Nicholas Ng, Janifer Yeo and Alex Y. Tan. company, or its parent company Saag Corp. (Bhd), be acquired by any other person or entity
without his prior consent, he has the option either to require the other stockholders to purchase
The facts are as follows: his shares or to terminate the JVA and dissolve Saag Phils., Inc. altogether. Thus, pursuant to
this provision, since private respondent did not give his consent as regards the transfer of shares
Petitioner Vincent E. Omictin, Operations Manager Ad Interim of Saag Phils., Inc., filed a made by Gan and Thiang, he made several requests to Nicholas Ng, who replaced Gan as
complaint for two counts of estafa with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati against private director, and Janifer Yeo, Executive Director of Saag (S) Pte. Ltd., to call for a board meeting in
respondent George I. Lagos. He alleged that private respondent, despite repeated demands, order to discuss the following: a) implementation of the board resolution declaring dividends; b)
refused to return the two company vehicles entrusted to him when he was still the president of acquisition of private respondents shares by Saag (S) Pte. Ltd.; c) dissolution of Saag Phils.,
Saag Phils., Inc.. Inc.; and d) the termination of the JVA.

On February 26, 1999, public prosecutor Alex G. Bagaoisan recommended the indictment of Ng and Yeo failed to appear, however, in the scheduled board meetings. Instead, on September
private respondent, and on the same day, respondent was charged with the crime of estafa 30, 1998 they issued a letter appointing Alex Y. Tan as President Ad Interim of Saag Phils., Inc.
under Article 315, par. 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Tan, in turn, appointed petitioner Omictin as the companys Operations Manager Ad Interim.
Branch 57 of Makati City. The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 99-633, entitled People Citing as a reason the absence of a board resolution authorizing the continued operations of
of the Philippines v. George I. Lagos. Saag Phils., Inc., private respondent retained his possession of the office equipment of the
company in a fiduciary capacity as director of the corporation pending its dissolution and/or the
On June 4, 1999, private respondent filed a motion to recuse praying that Presiding Judge resolution of the intra-corporate dispute. He likewise changed the locks of the offices of the
Reinato G. Quilala inhibit himself from hearing the case based on the following grounds: company allegedly to prevent Tan and petitioner from seizing company property.

a) In an order, dated May 28, 1999, the presiding judge summarily denied Private respondent stressed that Tans appointment was invalid because it was in derogation of
respondents motion: 1) to defer issuance of the warrant of arrest; and 2) to order reinvestigation. the company by-laws requiring that the president must be chosen from among the directors, and
[5]
elected by the affirmative vote of a majority of all the members of the board of directors. As
b) Immediately before the issuance of the above-mentioned order, the presiding judge Tans appointment did not have the acquiescence of the board of directors, petitioners
[2]
and Atty. Alex Y. Tan, SAAG Philippines, Inc.s Ad Interim President, were seen together. appointment by the former is likewise allegedly invalid. Thus, neither has the power or the
authority to represent or act for Saag Phils., Inc. in any transaction or action before the SEC or
any court of justice.
On June 24, 1999, private respondent filed a motion to suspend proceedings on the basis of a
prejudicial question because of a pending petition with the Securities and Exchange Commission The trial court, in an order dated September 8, 1999, denied respondents motion to suspend
(SEC) involving the same parties. proceedings and motion to recuse.
II
His motion for reconsideration having been denied by the trial court in its order issued THIS PETITION FOR CERTIORARI IS THE ONLY PLAIN, SPEEDY AND ADEQUATE
[6]
on October 29, 1999, respondent filed with the CA the petition for certiorari assailing the REMEDY IN THE PREMISES.
aforesaid orders.
In support of the above, petitioner argues, as follows:
On June 30, 2000, the CA rendered its challenged decision. The pertinent portion reads:

In a case for estafa, a valid demand made by an offended party is one of the essential elements. 1. The action before the SEC and the criminal case before the trial court do not involve any
[13]
It appears from the records that the delay of delivery of the motor vehicles by petitioner to Saag prejudicial question. SEC Case No. 01-99-6185 mainly involves the dissolution of Saag (S)
Corporation is by reason of petitioners contention that the demand made by Omictin and Atty. Pte. Ltd., the appointment of a receiver, the distribution of profits, and the authority of petitioner
Tan to him to return the subject vehicles is not a valid demand. As earlier mentioned, petitioner and Tan to represent Saag Phils., Inc. The entity which is being sued is Saag (S) Pte. Ltd., a
filed a case with the SEC questioning therein private respondents appointment. foreign corporation over which the SEC has yet to acquire jurisdiction. Hence, any decision that
may be rendered in the SEC case will neither be determinative of the innocence or guilt of the
If the SEC should rule that the dissolution of Saag Phils. is proper, or that the appointments of accused nor bind Saag Phils., Inc. because the same was not made a party to the action even if
private respondents are invalid, the criminal case will eventually be dismissed due to the the former is its holding corporation;
absence of one of the essential elements of the crime of estafa.
2. Saag Phils., Inc. has a separate corporate existence and is to be treated as a
Based on the foregoing, it is clear that a prejudicial question exists which calls for the separate entity from its holding or parent company, Saag (S) Pte. Ltd. The mere fact that one or
suspension of the criminal proceedings before the lower court. more corporations are owned or controlled by the same or single stockholder is not a sufficient
ground for disregarding separate corporate personalities;
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the assailed Order of September 8, 1999 and October
29, 1999, are hereby MODIFIED. The motion to suspend proceedings is hereby GRANTED and 3. Private respondents petition with the SEC seeks affirmative relief against Saag (S)
respondent court is hereby enjoined from hearing Criminal Case No. 99-633, entitled People of Pte. Ltd. for the enforcement or application of the alleged terms of the joint venture agreement
the Philippines v. George I. Lagos, until the termination of the case with the Securities and (JVA) that he purportedly entered into with the foreign corporation while he was still its Area
Exchange Commission. The denial of the motion to recuse is hereby AFFIRMED. Sales Manager in the Philippines. The foreign corporation is not licensed to do business in the
[7]
SO ORDERED. Philippines, thus, a party to a contract with a foreign corporation doing business in the
Philippines without a license is not entitled to relief from the latter; and
[8]
Incidentally, on January 18, 2001, the SEC case was transferred to the Regional Trial Court
[9]
(RTC) of Mandaluyong City, Branch 214, pursuant to A.M. No. 00-11-03-SC implementing the 4. There is no pending civil or administrative case in SEC against Saag Phils., Inc. that
[10]
Securities and Regulation Code (Republic Act No. 8799) enacted on July 19, 2000, vesting in warrants the application of a prejudicial question and the consequent suspension of the criminal
[11]
the RTCs jurisdiction over intra-corporate disputes. action it has instituted against private respondent. If any, the action before the SEC was merely
Meanwhile, on March 5, 2001, the CA, addressing petitioners motion for reconsideration of the a ploy to delay the resolution of the criminal case and eventually frustrate the outcome of the
aforementioned decision, issued its assailed resolution: estafa case.

Considering that the petition for review on certiorari of the 30 June 2000 decision of this Court, In sum, the main issue is whether or not a prejudicial question exists to warrant the suspension
filed by the Office of the Solicitor General before the Supreme Court has already TERMINATED of the criminal proceedings pending the resolution of the intra-corporate controversy that was
on November 20, 2000 and a corresponding entry of judgment has already been issued by the originally filed with the SEC.
High Court, that the same is final and executory, the private respondents motion for A prejudicial question is defined as that which arises in a case, the resolution of which is a
reconsideration of the decision 30 June 2000 before this Court is NOTED for being moot and logical antecedent of the issue involved therein and the cognizance of which pertains to another
[14]
academic. tribunal. Here, the case which was lodged originally before the SEC and which is now pending
before the RTC of Mandaluyong City by virtue of Republic Act No. 8799 involves facts that are
[12]
SO ORDERED. intimately related to those upon which the criminal prosecution is based.

Hence, this petition raises the following issues: Ultimately, the resolution of the issues raised in the intra-corporate dispute will determine the
I guilt or innocence of private respondent in the crime of estafa filed against him by petitioner
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION before the RTC of Makati. As correctly stated by the CA, one of the elements of the crime of
AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION - estafa with abuse of confidence under Article 315, par. 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code is a
demand made by the offended party to the offender:
A) WHEN IT DECREED THAT A PREJUDICIAL QUESTION EXISTS IN THE SEC CASE FILED
BY PRIVATE RESPONDENT AGAINST SAAG (S) PTE. LTD., A FOREIGN CORPORATION, The elements of estafa with abuse of confidence under subdivision No. 1, par. (b) of Art. 315 are
ALTHOUGH THE PRIVATE COMPLAINANT IN THE CRIMINAL CASE FOR ESTAFA (WHERE as follows:
PRIVATE RESPONDENT IS THE ACCUSED THEREIN) IS ACTUALLY SAAG PHILIPPINES,
INC. A DOMESTIC CORPORATION WITH A SEPARATE JURIDICAL PERSONALITY OF ITS 1. That money, goods, or other personal property be received by the offender in trust, or on
OWN AND WHICH IS NOT EVEN A PARTY IN THE SEC CASE; AND, commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to make
delivery of, or to return the same;
B) WHEN IT ORDERED THE SUSPENSION OF THE PROCEEDINGS IN CRIMINAL CASE
NO. 99-633 AGAINST PRIVATE RESPONDENT. 2. That there be misrepresentation or conversion of such money or property by the offender, or
denial on his part of such receipt;
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals
3. That such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and in CA-G.R. SP No. 55834, dated June 30, 2000 and March 5, 2001, respectively,
[15]
4. That there is a demand made by the offended party to the offender. are AFFIRMED.

Logically, under the circumstances, since the alleged offended party is Saag Phils., Inc., the No costs.
validity of the demand for the delivery of the subject vehicles rests upon the authority of the
person making such a demand on the companys behalf. Private respondent is challenging
petitioners authority to act for Saag Phils., Inc. in the corporate case pending before the RTC of
Mandaluyong, Branch 214. Taken in this light, if the supposed authority of petitioner is found to
be defective, it is as if no demand was ever made, hence, the prosecution for estafa cannot
prosper. Moreover, the mere failure to return the thing received for safekeeping or on
commission, or for administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to deliver or to
return the same or deliver the value thereof to the owner could only give rise to a civil action and
does not constitute the crime of estafa. This is because the crime is committed by
misappropriating or converting money or goods received by the offender under a lawful
[16]
transaction. As stated in the case of United States v. Bleibel:

The crime of estafa is not committed by the failure to return the things received for sale on
commission, or to deliver their value, but, as this class of crime is defined by law, by
misappropriating or converting the money or goods received on commission. Delay in the
fulfillment of a commission or in the delivery of the sum on such account received only involves
civil liability. So long as the money that a person is under obligation to deliver is not demanded
of him, and he fails to deliver it for having wrongfully disposed of it, there is no estafa, whatever
be the cause of the debt.

Likewise, by analogy, the doctrine of primary jurisdiction may be applied in this case. The issues
raised by petitioner particularly the status of Saag Phils., Inc. vis--vis Saag (S) Pte. Ltd., as well
as the question regarding the supposed authority of the latter to make a demand on behalf of the
company, are proper subjects for the determination of the tribunal hearing the intra-corporate
case which in this case is the RTC of Mandaluyong, Branch 214. These issues would have been
referred to the expertise of the SEC in accordance with the doctrine of primary jurisdiction had
the case not been transferred to the RTC of Mandaluyong.

Strictly speaking, the objective of the doctrine of primary jurisdiction is to guide a court in
determining whether it should refrain from exercising its jurisdiction until after an administrative
agency has determined some question or some aspect of some question arising in the
[17]
proceeding before the court. The court cannot or will not determine a controversy involving a
question which is within the jurisdiction of the administrative tribunal prior to resolving the same,
where the question demands the exercise of sound administrative discretion requiring special
[18]
knowledge, experience and services in determining technical and intricate matters of fact.

While the above doctrine refers specifically to an administrative tribunal, the Court believes that
the circumstances in the instant case do not proscribe the application of the doctrine, as the role
of an administrative tribunal such as the SEC in determining technical and intricate matters of
special competence has been taken on by specially designated RTCs by virtue of Republic Act
[19]
No. 8799. Hence, the RTC of Mandaluyong where the intra-corporate case is pending has the
primary jurisdiction to determine the issues under contention relating to the status of the
domestic corporation, Saag Phils., Inc., vis--vis Saag Pte. Ltd.; and the authority of petitioner to
act on behalf of the domestic corporation, the determination of which will have a direct bearing
on the criminal case. The law recognizes that, in place of the SEC, the regular courts now have
[20]
the legal competence to decide intra-corporate disputes.

In view of the foregoing, the Court finds no substantial basis in petitioners contention that the CA
committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Absent a
showing of a despotic, whimsical and arbitrary exercise of power by the CA, the petition must
fail.
G.R. Nos. 162748-50 (e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party
any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official, administrative
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable
negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government
corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions.
Petitioner,

- versus -

st xxxx
SANDIGANBAYAN (1 Division), SEVERINO J. LAJARA, DENNIS LANZANAS, APOLONIO
ELASIGUE, SENADOR C. ALCALDE, EMILIO C. RODRIGUEZ, EFREN M. GARCIA, FRISCO
L. ONA, RENATO S. BUNYI, DIOSDADO J. LAJARA, CRISPIN M. CONTRERAS, JORGE M.
JAVIER, and JESUS V. GARCIA,
(g) Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and
Respondents. grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit
thereby.
DECISION

xxxx

CARPIO MORALES, J.:


(j) Knowingly approving or granting any license, permit, privilege or benefit in favor of any person
not qualified for or not legally entitled to such license, permit, privilege or advantage or of a mere
representative or dummy of one who is not so qualified or entitled.

Challenged by the People of the Philippines via petition for certiorari under Rule 65 are the
[1] [2]
Sandiganbayan Resolution of September 26, 2003 granting the Motion to Quash filed by
private respondents and accordingly dismissing Criminal Case Nos. 23153-23155, and the
[3]
Resolution of January 28, 2004 denying the Motion for Reconsideration of said resolution.

The charges arose from private respondents public officials entering, pursuant to Municipal
[4]
Ordinance No. 497, into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) dated December 5, 1994 with
APRI represented by respondent Garcia for the construction of the Calamba Shopping Center
Private respondents then Calamba Mayor Severino J. Lajara and his fellow local public officials [5]
under the Build-Operate-Transfer scheme in Republic Act 6957, as amended by R.A. 7718.
Dennis Lanzanas, Apolonio A. Elasigue, Senador C. Alcalde, Emilio C. Rodriguez, Efren M.
Garcia, Frisco L. Ona, Renato A. Bunyi, Diosdado M. Lajara, Crispin M. Contreras, Jorge M.
Javier were, together with Jesus V. Garcia, President of Australian Professional Realty (APRI),
charged before the Sandiganbayan under three separate informations for violation of Sections
3(e), (g) and (j) of Republic Act No. 3019 (the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) which The three separate Informations all dated January 18, 1996 read:
provisions read:

CRIMINAL CASE NO. 23153


SEC. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. - In addition to acts or omissions of public officers
already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public
officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer, Office of the Special Prosecutor, hereby accuses
Severino Lajara, Dennis Lanzanas, Apolonio Elasigue, Senador Alcalde, Emilio C. Rodriguez,
Efren M. Garcia, Frisco L. Ona, Renato A. Bunyi, Diosdado J. Lajara, Crispin M. Contreras,
xxxx Jorge M. Javier and Jesus V. Garcia for violation of Section 3 (j) of Republic Act 3019, as
amended, committed as follows:
That on December 5, 1994, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Calamba, Laguna, under the control and supervision of the Australian Professional Realty, Inc., thus causing undue
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, injury to the Government.
Severino Lajara, as Municipal Mayor of Calamba Laguna, and while in the performance of his
official function, conniving and confederating with the other public officers namely: Dennis [7]
CONTRARY TO LAW. (Underscoring supplied)
Lanzanas, the Vice-Mayor, Apolinio Elasigue, Frisco Ona, Senador C. Alcalde, Renato A. Bunyi,
Emilio C. Rodriguez, Diosdado J. Lajara, Efren Garcia, Jorge Javier and Crispin Contreras, all
Members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Calamba, Laguna, together with the private respondent,
Jesus V. Garcia, President of the Australian Professional Realty, Inc., did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and criminally grant to Austalian Professional Realty, Inc., the privilege of constructing CRIMINAL CASE NO. 23155
the shopping center located at Calamba, Laguna despite knowledge that the said construction
firm is not qualified not being accredited by the Philippine Contractors Accreditation
Board (PCAB) as Class AAA contractor because it has only a paid-up capital of ONE HUNDRED
TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P125,000.00), Philippine Currency, when the subject
The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer, Office of the Special Prosecutor, hereby accuses
project would cost from P200 Million to P300 Million, to the prejudice of the government.
Severino Lajara, Dennis Lanzanas, Apolonio Elasigue, Senador Alcalde, Emilio C. Rodriguez,
[6]
Efren M. Garcia, Frisco L. Ona, Renato A. Bunyi, Diosdado J. Lajara, Crispin M. Contreras,
CONTRARY TO LAW. (Underscoring supplied) Jorge M. Javier and Jesus V. Garcia for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019, as
amended, committed as follows:

That on December 5, 1994, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Calamba, Laguna,


Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
Severino Lajara, as Municipal Mayor of Calamba Laguna, and while in the performance of his
official function, conniving and confederating with the other public officers namely: Dennis
Lanzanas, the Vice-Mayor, Apolinio Elasigue, Frisco Ona, Senador C. Alcalde, Renato A. Bunyi,
Emilio C. Rodriguez, Diosdado J. Lajara, Efren Garcia, Jorge Javier and Crispin Contreras,
Members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Calamba, Laguna, together with the private respondent,
Jesus V. Garcia, president of the Australian Professional Realty, Inc., and acting with evident
bad faith did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally enter into a Memorandum of
Agreement on behalf of the Municipality of Calamba, Laguna with contractor Australian
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 23154 Professional Realty, Inc. represented by its President, private respondent Jesus V. Garcia, for
the construction of the shopping center in Calamba, Laguna, under the Build Operate and
Transfer (BOT) scheme, despite knowledge that the Municipal Ordinance No. 497 which gave
authority to respondent Mayor to enter into the Memorandum of Agreement was still under study
by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna; that Australian Realty, Inc. is not an accredited
The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer, Office of the Special Prosecutor, hereby accuses contractor; and that no pre-qualification, bidding and awarding of the project was
Severino Lajara, Dennis Lanzanas, Apolonio Elasigue, Senador Alcalde, Emilio C. Rodriguez, conducted, thus, causing undue injury to the complainants and to the Government.
Efren M. Garcia, Frisco L. Ona, Renato A. Bunyi, Diosdado J. Lajara, Crispin M. Contreras,
Jorge M. Javier and Jesus V. Garcia for violation of Section 3 (g) of Republic Act 3019, as
amended, committed as follows:
[8]
CONTRARY TO LAW. (Underscoring supplied)

That on December 5, 1994, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in Calamba, Laguna,


Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
Severino Lajara, as Municipal Mayor of Calamba Laguna, and while in the performance of his
official function, conniving and confederating with the other public officers namely: Dennis
[9]
Lanzanas, the Vice-Mayor, Apolinio Elasigue, Frisco Ona, Senador C. Alcalde, Diosdado J. On February 6, 1996, private respondents filed a Petition for Reinvestigation and a Motion to
[10]
Lajara, Efren Garcia, Jorge Javier and Crispin Contreras, all Members of the Sangguniang Suspend Proceedings and to Hold in Abeyance the Issuance of Warrant of Arrest due to the
Bayan of Calamba, Laguna, together with the private respondent, Jesus V. Garcia, president of pendency of two civil actions for the nullification of the MOA, Civil Case No. 2180-95-C, Merlinda
the Australian Professional Realty, Inc., did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally Paner, for herself and for the vendors of the Calamba Public Market v. Mayor Severino Lajara &
[11]
enter into a Memorandum of Agreement for and in behalf of the Municipality of Calamba, Laguna Australian Professional Realty, Inc., and Civil Case No. 2186-95-C, Calamba Vendors Credit
with contractor Australian Professional Realty, Inc. represented by its President, private Cooperative and its Members v. The Municipality of Calamba, Laguna, Mayor Sereriano Lajara
[12]
respondent Jesus V. Garcia, regarding the construction of a shopping center in Calamba, and Australian Professional Realty, Inc., at Branch 92 of the Regional Trial Court of Calamba
Laguna, the terms and conditions being manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the City (the trial court), they alleging that the said civil cases raised prejudicial questions which
Municipality of Calamba such that the actual operation and management of the said shopping must first be resolved as they are determinative of their innocence or guilt.
center and the income derived therefrom for a period of twenty five (25) years will be directly
In the meantime, for failure to prosecute, Civil Case No. 2186-95-C was dismissed on June 30,
[22] [23]
1999. As for Civil Case No. 2180-95-C, the trial court, by Decision of September 8, 2000,
[13]
By Order of February 16, 1996, the Sandiganbayan held in abeyance the issuance of orders dismissed it after it found that the MOA was not tainted with marks of nullity. The decision was
of arrest pending further study by the prosecution on whether the informations, as worded, can appealed by the plaintiffs to the appellate court but the appeal was withdrawn and later declared
[24]
reasonably produce conviction. abandoned and dismissed by the said court by Resolution of January 15, 2003.

After reinvestigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor submitted to the Ombudsman a The Sandiganbayan subsequently denied private respondents Motion to Quash, by
[25]
[14]
Memorandum recommending the dismissal of the criminal cases upon finding that the Resolution of February 26, 2001, for lack of merit, and unaware that a decision had already
Calamba Shopping Center was not listed as a priority project, hence, no bidding was required; been rendered in Civil Case No. 2180-95-C, granted the Motion to Suspend Proceedings after
APRI was a project initiator and not a contractor, hence, it did not have to register and be finding that prejudicial questions exist which warrant the suspension of the criminal proceedings.
accredited by the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB); and for the purpose of The suspension of the proceedings in the criminal cases notwithstanding, private respondents
[26]
constructing the shopping center, APRI has, aside from its paid-up capital stock, credit line Frisco L. Ona and Senador C. Alcalde were respectively arraigned on July 27, 2001 and
[27]
facilities of 150 million pesos.
[15] October 11, 2002, it being necessary for the approval of their motions to travel. Both pleaded
not guilty to each of the charges in the Informations.

The Ombudsman disapproved the recommendation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, [28]
however, it holding that while prejudicial question may be attendant, it does not warrant the Private respondents later filed another Motion to Quash alleging that [t]he DECISION of the
dismissal of the criminal cases.
[16] Regional Trial Court in the Civil Cases [sic] raises no iota of doubt that in these three (3)
INFORMATIONS [they] cannot be prosecuted after a clear and categorical pronouncement in
the said decision declaring the elements of the crime under which they are being prosecuted do
[29]
not exist.
[17]
Private respondents thereupon filed an Omnibus Motion for Re-investigation, contending that
the Ombudsmans disapproval of the Office of the Special Prosecutors memorandum-
recommendation was anchored on an erroneous appreciation of the issues and facts discussed
therein, and that the recommendation was based not on the existence of prejudicial questions Treating the second Motion to Quash as a motion to dismiss, the Sandiganbayan, by
[30]
but on a finding that there was no violation of RA No. 3019. Resolution of September 26, 2003, granted the same and accordingly dismissed Criminal
Case Nos. 23153-23155.

[18]
By Resolution of August 25, 1998, the Sandiganbayan found that no prejudicial question [31]
existed in the civil cases and that, at all events, the Omnibus Motion for Reinvestigation was no The Peoples motion for reconsideration having been denied by Resolution of January 28,
longer proper since only one motion for reinvestigation may be filed under Section 27 of RA 2004, the present petition for certiorari was filed, attributing to the Sandiganbayan the
6770.
[19] commission of grave abuse of discretion:

A.

[20]
Private respondents subsequently filed a Motion to Quash the informations, alleging that the
Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over the offenses charged or over their persons; the three
informations charging three different criminal offenses arising from one and the same act of . . . IN HOLDING THAT THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF CALAMBA,
entering into a MOA violate their constitutional rights against double jeopardy; the facts charged LAGUNA, BRANCH 92, FINDING THE VALIDITY OF THE QUESTIONED MEMORANDUM OF
in each information do not constitute an offense, and there is no probable cause to hold them for AGREEMENT HAS RENDERED CRIMINAL CASE NOS. 23153-23155 DEVOID OF ANY
trial. PROBABLE CAUSE.

In a separate move, private respondents filed on September 10, 1998 a Motion to Suspend B.
[21]
Proceedings reiterating that there are prejudicial questions involved in the pending civil
actions.

. . . IN NOT RESOLVING THE ISSUES PUT FORTH BY PETITIONER AGAINST THE MOTION
TO QUASH FILED BY PRIVATE RESPONDENTS THAT THERE IS [sic] NO IDENTITIES OF
PARTIES BETWEEN CIVIL CASE NO. 2180-95-C AND CRIMINAL CASE NOS. 23153-23155, 1. Whether or not SB Resolution No. 497 of the Municipality of Calamba is valid in that it was
[32]
A CONDITION NEGATING THE EXISTENCE OF PREJUDICIAL QUESTION. ratified or not ratified by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan;

2. Whether or not the questioned MOA is valid when APRI is not accredited with the
Philippine Contractors Accredita[tion] Board (PCAB) and has an authorized capital stock of only
This Court notes that instead of assailing the Sandiganbayan resolutions by petition for review 2 Million Pesos and a paid up capital stock of only P125,000.00;
on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, petitioner availed of the present
petition for certiorari under Rule 65.

3. Whether or not the questioned MOA is valid without public bidding of the project;

Under Rule 65, petitioner must show that there is no appeal or any plain, speedy, and adequate
remedy in the ordinary course of law. In this case, an appeal from the resolution of the
Sandiganbayan granting the motion to quash, which the Sandiganbayan treated as a motion to 4. Whether or not the execution of the questioned MOA complies with the mandatory
[33]
dismiss, being a final, not merely interlocutory order, was not only available but was also a requirement of the Buil[d] [sic] Operate and Transfer (BOT) RA 6957 as amended by RA 7718
speedy and adequate remedy. and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR);

Section 7 of Presidential Decree No. 1606 (REVISING PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 1486 5. Whether or not the questioned MOA is grossly disadvantageous to
CREATING A SPECIAL COURT TO BE KNOWN AS SANDIGANBAYAN AND FOR OTHER the Municipality of Calamba.,
[36]

PURPOSES), as amended by Republic Act No. 8249, provides that decisions and final orders of
the Sandiganbayan
shall be appealable to the Supreme Court by petition for review on certiorari raising pure
questions of law in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. Likewise, Section 1, Rule 45
of the Rules of Court provides that a judgment or final order or resolution of the Sandiganbayan
may be appealed to the Supreme Court on a petition for review on certiorari.
are logical antecedents of the following issues raised in the criminal cases, the resolution of
which logical antecedents belongs to the trial court in the civil case: (1) whether private
respondents granted in favor of APRI the privilege of constructing the Calamba Shopping Center
While in the interest of justice, a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 may be treated as having despite knowledge that APRI was not qualified - not having been accredited by the PBAC as
been filed under Rule 45, a liberal application of the rules does not herein lie for the present Class AAA contractor because its paid up capital only amounts to P125,000 [Information in
petition for certiorari was filed beyond the reglementary period for filing a petition for Criminal Case No. 23153]; (2) whether the terms and conditions of the MOA entered into by
review. Parenthetically, petitioner did not even endeavor to explain why it failed to adopt the private respondents for and in behalf of the municipality were manifestly and grossly
proper remedy.
[34] disadvantageous to the municipality [Information in Criminal Case No. 23154]; and (3) whether
private respondents through evident bad faith caused undue injury to the complainants and to
the government for entering into a MOA, knowing that (a) Municipal Ordinance No. 497 which
gave authority to the Mayor to enter into said agreement was still under study by the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Laguna, (b) APRI was not an accredited contractor, and (c) no
[35]
But even gratuitously resolving the petition on the issue of grave abuse of discretion, the pre-qualification, bidding and awarding of the project was conducted.
petition just the same fails as no grave abuse of discretion can be appreciated from the
Sandiganbayans quashal of the informations.

While the resolution of Civil Case No. 2180-95-C by the trial court of the issues raised therein do
not conclusively determine the guilt or innocence
While the filing of Criminal Case Nos. 23153-23155 was premised on the alleged violation by
private respondents of Sections 3 (j), (g), and (e) of RA No. 3019 for entering, in behalf of the
municipality, into a MOA with APRI, and the filing of Civil Case No. 2180-95-C was instituted to
invalidate the MOA, the following issues, identified by the trial court in the said civil case as
necessary to determine the validity or nullity of the MOA:
of private respondents, still it puts to test the sufficiency of the allegations in the informations,
[37]
particularly whether further prosecution of the criminal cases may be sustained. A challenge to
the allegations in the informations on account of the issues posed for resolution in the trial court,
which are deemed prejudicial questions, is in effect a question on the merits of the criminal Unsolicited Proposals Unsolicited proposals for projects may be accepted by any government
[38]
charge through a non-criminal suit. agency or local government unit on a negotiated bases: Provided, that, all the following
conditions are met: (1) such project involve[s] a new concept or technology and/or not part of the
list of priority projects, (2) no direct government guarantee, subsidy or equity is required, and (3)
the government agency or local government unit has invited by publication, or three (3)
consecutive weeks, in a newspaper of general circulation, comparative or competitive proposals
Indeed, there would be no reason to proceed with the criminal cases in light of the trial courts is [sic] received for a period of sixty (60) working days: Provided, further, that in the event
findings, which had become final and executory after the appellate court considered the appeal another proponent submits a lower price proposal, the original proponent shall have the right to
therefrom abandoned and dismissed, that the MOA was valid as APRI was qualified to enter into match that price within thirty (30) working days (Reiterated in Rule 10, Section 10.2 and Rule 11,
the same; APRI and the municipality through private respondents complied with all the Section 11.1 of the IRR).
procedural requirements necessary for entering into the MOA; and the terms and conditions of
the MOA were not grossly disadvantageous to the municipality.

xxxx
. . . The fact that APRI is not accredited with the P[hilippine C[ontractors] A[djudication] B[oard]
or has only a capital stock of only 2 Million Pesos and a paid-up capital of only P125,000.00 will
not by itself nullify the MOA. A contractor may or may not be the project proponent (Sec. 2 (e)
RA 7718). A project proponent is the private sector entity which shall have contractual . . . Atty. Marciano likewise testified that the proposal for the construction of the Calamba
responsibility for the project which shall have an adequate financial base to implement said Shopping Center is under the Unsolicited Proposal and that there is no need for bidding based
project consisting of equity and firm commitments from reputable financial institutions to provide on the letter dated August 17, 1995 to APRI by NEDA Regional Director Mr. Catalino Boquiren
sufficient credit lines to cover the total estimate cost of the project (Sec. 2(k) RA 7718). APRI is a to the effect that the Calamba Shopping Center is not covered by ICC/NEDA review and
BOT project proponent and not a contractor to undertake actual construction for the project and approval (p. 9, TSN of September 2, 1999). NEDA Regional Director Mr. Catalino Boquiren was
thus, APRI need not register with and be accredited by the PCAB (p. 9, TSN of November 11, presented by the plaintiffs as their witness and he identified his August 17, 1995 letter to APRI
[39]
1999). . . . marked as Exhs. 10 and 10-A (pages 7 to 8, TSN of March 20, 1997). . . . (Underscoring
supplied)

xxxx

The Court is convinced by the defendants evidence that APRI has sufficient financial base or
capability to implement the project with a[n] estimated project cost of 150 Million Pesos (Exh. 16- The qualification of APRI to enter into the MOA with the municipality having been duly
A). The initial authorized capital stock of APRI of 2 Million Pesos is supplemented by Brilliant established, private respondents could no longer be held accountable under Section 3 (j) which
Star Capital Lending in the amount of 150 Million Pesos (p. 10 TSN September 5, 1999 and Exh. punishes the act of public officers of knowingly granting a license, permit, privilege or advantage
11). On top of this, the initial authorized capital stock of 2 Million Pesos is in the process of being to a person not qualified or legally entitled thereto.
increased (pages 3 to 6 TSN of November 11, 1999).

The absence of the element under Section 3 (g) that the MOA was grossly or manifestly
xxxx disadvantageous to the municipality reflected in the following findings of the trial court bears
noting:

. . . The requirement of public bidding, as well as the process and procedures thereof, mandated
by the BOT law do not apply to unsolicited proposals for projects. . . . The Calamba Shopping Center Project, as an Unsolicited Proposal, does not require
government guarantee, subsidy or equity. Indeed the very provisions of the questioned MOA in
its whereas show in unmistakable terms that no cost or expenses [sic] [o]n the part of the
Municipality of Calamba shall be required in the construction of the project in this
wise: WHEREAS, the first party (The Municipality of Calamba) desires to have a shopping
Projects to be implemented under unsolicited proposals need not comply with the requirements, center for the residents of Calamba, Laguna and the nearby towns and cities that would serve as
process and procedures of public bidding. Sec. 4 of amendatory RA 7718 provides as follows to one of the major trading point[s] in the Province of Laguna; WHEREAS, the second party (APRI)
wit: is willing and able to help the FIRST PARTY in achieving its aforementioned objectives by
constructing and operating a shopping center with modern and sleek design without cost or
expense on the part of the first party pursuant to Buil[d]-Operate-Transfer Scheme under RA
6957, as amended by RA 7718;WHEREAS, the first party sees the benefits and economic
advantages of such project of the second party.
. . . Plaintiffs contends (sic) that said SB No. 497 is not valid for the reason that the Sangguniang
Panlalawigan of Laguna disapproved or did not ratify the same. Plaintiffs offered Exh. C which
defendants likewise marked and offered as Exh. 3 to prove that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan
This very clear and unmistakable terms of the questioned MOA belie the claim of the plaintiffs approved Resolution No. 497. The very Exh. C and Exh. 3 recites [sic] the fact of the approval
that said MOA is grossly disadvantageous to the municipality. On the contrary, the Court sees by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in this wise
the construction of the Calamba Shipping Center under the MOA [as] a rare happening with
tremendous benefits to the citizenry not only of Calamba but also of the neighboring towns of the January 13, 1995
province, and this without any cost or expense on the coffers of the municipality. The Court
takes judicial notice of the fact that at present, the Calamba Shopping Center, which is just about
a stone-throw away from this Court, has been already in operation, albeit still incomplete, with
buildings and infrastructures in modern design constructed without cost to the municipality to be
enjoyed by the constituents now and in the years to come. CERTIFICATION

As matters stand now, the Municipality of Calamba is the beneficiary of all the improvements This is to certify that Resolution No. 497 S. 1994 of the Sangguniang Bayan of Calamba, Laguna
constructed by APRI on its former market site. The parties may differ as to how to recompense was received by this Office on November 07, 1994, and calendared in the agenda of December
APRI for such improvements and what will guide them in view of the re[s]cission of the BOT 14, 1994 and was approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on the same day.
Contract. Certainly, the parties did not sustain damage by such re[s]cission and they cannot be
heard to complain about it.

It is further certified that the approval of said Resolution was with[he]ld by [the] Sangguniang
Panlalawigan in its session on January 11, 1995, and was referred to the Committee on Laws
To the mind of the Court, the BOT Contract did not work any damage to the municipality, much and Rules for further study, in view of a letter-request filed by the Public Market Vendors
more placed the municipality in any kind of disadvantageous position. It did not either place the Association of Calamba.
APRI in any disadvantageous situation, now that the contract [wa]s rescinded by the municipal
[40]
council. (Underscoring supplied)

The approval by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Resolution No. 497 is not shrouded by any
doubt. The fact [that] the resolution was later referred to the Committee on Laws and Rules
(Exh. C-1) was only made by the Provincial Board in order to appease the public vendors
association of Calamba after the provincial board received a letter-request stating that
Resolution No. 497 was implemented without public hearing.

For the charge of Section 3 (e) to prosper, the following elements must be present: (1) the
accused is a public officer or private person charged in conspiracy with the former; (2) the public
officer commits the prohibited acts during the performance of his official duties or his relation to Moreover, SB Resolution No. 497 having been received by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan
his public positions; (3) he causes undue injury to any party, whether the Government or a on November 7, 1994, then on December 8, 1994 or after thirty (30) days from November 7,
private party; (4) such injury is caused by giving unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference 1994, without the Sanggunian Panlalawigans action declaring SB Resolution No. 497 invalid,
to such parties; and (5) the public officer has acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or then said SB Resolution No. 497 shall be presumed consistent with law and therefore valid.
gross inexcusable negligence. (Sec. 56 (a) Local Government Code). Thus, it can be said that SB Resolution No. 497 was
approved twice, first by the positive action of approval on December 14, 1994 and second, by
inaction on December 8, 1994 upon the lapse of thirty (30) days from receipt on November 7,
1994. The reliance by plaintiffs on Exh. C-1 (the second par. of Exh. C) stating that on [sic]
January 11, 1995 session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan the approval of the Resolution No.
Assuming arguendo that an ordinance awarding a contract to an unqualified entity not having 497 was with[h]eld and referred to the Committee on Rules for study is of no moment nor of any
been ratified by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan could result to prejudice to the government, the significance because as stated hereinbefore, there was a positive approval on December 14,
findings of the trial court that (1) the ordinance was indeed ratified, (2) no public bidding was 1994 and approval by inaction on December 8, 1994.
required, (3) the MOA complied with the mandatory requirements under RA 6957, as amended
by RA No.7718 (Build, Operate and Transfer Law), and (4) there was no evident bad faith on the
part of the parties in executing the MOA negate the existence of probable cause to justify haling
private respondents into court for violation of above-said Section 3 (e). Pertinent portions of the
trial courts decision are reproduced hereunder: Moreover, the establishment, construction and maintenance of municipal markets are
undoubtedly pure proprietary function of the municipality (Mendoza vs. De Leon[,] 33 Phil[.] 508)
with[in] the power of any municipality under the provision of Sec. 22 of the Local Government x x x x (Underscoring supplied)
Code, thus:

(d) Local government units shall enjoy full autonomy in the exercise of their proprietary functions
in the management if their economic enterprises . . .

Contrary to the contention of petitioner, a prejudicial question is different from the concept of res
judicata. That there is no identity of parties between the civil case and the criminal cases does
not abate the application of a prejudicial question.

It is the opinion of this Court that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan may not restrict or frustrate the
exercise of the proprietary function of the municipality because the power to review of the A prejudicial question is defined as that which arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical
Sangguniang Panlalawigan is limited only to a finding that an ordinance or resolution is beyond antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another
the power conferred upon the Sangguniang Panlungsod or Pangbayan (Sec. 56 (c) Local tribunal. The prejudicial question must be determinative of the case before the court but the
[41]
Government Code). jurisdiction to try and resolve the question must be lodged in another court of tribunal. It is a
question based on a fact distinct and separate from "the crime but so intimately connected with it
that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it to suspend the criminal
action, it must appear not only that said case involves facts intimately related to those upon
The . . . letter of NEDA Regional Director Boquiren should dispel any doubt that the proposed which the criminal prosecution would be based but also that in the resolution of the issue or
shopping center is under the unsolicited proposal and is in conformity with the IRR of the BOT issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be
law. At the very least, said letter the good faith (sic) on the part of APRI and of the municipality in determined. It comes into play generally in a situation where a civil action and a criminal
entering into an agreement (the MOA) for the Calamba Shopping Center under the unsolicited action are both pending and there exists in the former an issue which must be
proposal scheme. This witness Boquiren was presented by the plaintiffs as their witness and preemptively resolved before the criminal action may proceed, because howsoever the
therefore plaintiffs are bound by his testimony. The attempt of the plaintiffs to impeach their own issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be determinative juris et de jure of the guilt
[43]
witness, Mr. Igancio Santos, Jr., cannot be allowed nor considered by the Court under the or innocence of the accused in the criminal case. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
mandate of Rule 132, Sec. 12 of the Revised Rules of Court which proved (sic) provides
that: Party may not impeach his own witness except to witnesses referred to in par. (d) and (e) of
Sec. 10. the party producing a witness is not allowed to impeach his credibility.
[44]
Finally, petitioner, not having assailed the Sandiganbayan Resolution dated February 26,
2001 that there exists a prejudicial question which warrants the suspension of the proceedings .
. . [i]n view of the similarity or close relation of the facts and issues, the issues to be resolved
It is also observed that when the MOA was entered into between the Mayor and APRI, the full herein [Criminal Case Nos. 23153-23155] may be rendered moot by a finding in the Civil cases
implementation of the BOT Law and the Amendatory Act (RA 7718) was not clearly defined, this that, under the circumstances, the award of the contract and/or execution of the Memorandum of
[45]
Court was guided by Exh. 10, the official communication of Mr. Boqueren categorically stating Agreement was proper, legal, valid, and beyond question, is now precluded from questioning
that the construction of the Calamba Shopping Center falls under the Unsolicited Proposal of the the existence of a prejudicial question.
BOT Law quoted herein before.

WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is DISMISSED. The September 26, 2003 Resolution of
In addition to the citation in the letter of Mr. Boquiren, the ICC guidelines and procedures in the Sandiganbayan is AFFIRMED.
Annex B-2 of IRR provides that project of the private sector under relending program vis special
credit facilities are excluded from the ICC review/decision (III Scope of ICC Review).

No pronouncement as to costs.

The pretension of witness Ignacio Santos, Jr., for the plaintiffs that the Calamba Shopping
Center should be endorsed to Regional Development Council for approval is not in accord with
the provision of the BOT Law because such [e]ndorsement to and approval by the Regional SO ORDERED.
[42]
Development Council is required only on priority projects (Sec. 4[,] RA 7718, Rule 27[,] IRR).
G.R. No. 147902 March 17, 2006 On February 14, 2000, RTC Branch 43 denied petitioners’ Motion to Dismiss and to Strike Out
Testimony of Rodante Manuel, ruling that the filing of a motion to dismiss is not allowed in
14
SPOUSES VICENTE YU AND DEMETRIA LEE-YU, Petitioners, petitions for issuance of writ of possession under Section 7 of Act No. 3135.
vs.
PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL INTERNATIONAL BANK, Respondent. On February 24, 2000, petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration, further arguing that the
pendency of Civil Case No. 99-03169-D in RTC Branch 44 is a prejudicial issue to Spec. Proc.
DECISION No. 99-00988-D in RTC Branch 43, the resolution of which is determinative on the propriety of
15
the issuance of a writ of possession.
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
On May 8, 2000, RTC Branch 43 denied petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration, holding that the
1 principle of prejudicial question is not applicable because the case pending before RTC Branch
Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of the Decision dated November 14, 2000 44 is also a civil case and not a criminal case.
16
of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 58982 and the CA Resolution dated April 26,
2001, which denied petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration. 17
On June 1, 2000, petitioners filed a Petition for Certiorari with the CA. On November 14, 2000,
the CA dismissed petitioners’ Petition for Certiorari on the grounds that petitioners violated
The factual background of the case is as follows: Section 8 of Act No. 3135 and disregarded the rule against multiplicity of suits in filing Civil Case
No. 99-03169-D in RTC Branch 44 despite full knowledge of the pendency of Spec. Proc. No.
2
Under a Real Estate Mortgage dated August 15, 1994 and Amendments of Real Estate 99-00988-D in RTC Branch 43; that since the one-year period of redemption has already lapsed,
3 4
Mortgage dated April 4, 1995 and December 4, 1995, spouses Vicente Yu and Demetria Lee- the issuance of a writ of possession in favor of respondent becomes a ministerial duty of the trial
Yu (petitioners) and spouses Ramon T. Yu and Virginia A. Tiu, or Yu Tian Hock aka court; that the issues in Civil Case No. 99-03169-D are not prejudicial questions to Spec. Proc.
Victorino/Vicente Yu, mortgaged their title, interest, and participation over several parcels of land No. 99-00988-D because: (a) the special proceeding is already fait accompli, (b) Civil Case No.
located in Dagupan City and Quezon City, in favor of the Philippine Commercial International 99-03169-D is deemed not filed for being contrary to Section 8 of Act No. 3135, (c) the filing of
5
Bank (respondent) as security for the payment of a loan in the amount of P9,000,000.00. Civil Case No. 99-03169-D is an afterthought and dilatory in nature, and (d) legally speaking
18
what seems to exist is litis pendentia and not prejudicial question.
As the petitioners failed to pay the loan, the interest, and the penalties due thereon, respondent
19 20
filed on July 21, 1998 with the Office of the Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff of the Regional Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration but it was denied by the CA on April 26, 2001.
Trial Court of Dagupan City a Petition for Extra-Judicial Foreclosure of Real Estate Mortgage on
6
the Dagupan City properties. On August 3, 1998, the City Sheriff issued a Notice of Extra- Hence, the present Petition for Review on Certiorari.
Judicial Sale scheduling the auction sale on September 10, 1998 at 10:00 o’clock in the morning
7
or soon thereafter in front of the Justice Hall, Bonuan, Tondaligan, Dagupan City.
Petitioners pose two issues for resolution, to wit:
8
At the auction sale on September 10, 1998, respondent emerged as the highest bidder. On
9
September 14, 1998, a Certificate of Sale was issued in favor of respondent. On October 1, A. Whether or not a real estate mortgage over several properties located in different locality [sic]
1998, the sale was registered with the Registry of Deeds of Dagupan City. can be separately foreclosed in different places.

About two months before the expiration of the redemption period, or on August 20, 1999, B. Whether or not the pendency of a prejudicial issue renders the issues in Special Proceedings
21
respondent filed an Ex-Parte Petition for Writ of Possession before the Regional Trial Court of No. 99-00988-D as [sic] moot and academic.
Dagupan City, docketed as Special Proceeding No. 99-00988-D and raffled to Branch 43 (RTC
10
Branch 43). Hearing was conducted on September 14, 1999 and respondent presented its Anent the first issue, petitioners contend that since a real estate mortgage is indivisible, the
11
evidence ex-parte. The testimony of Rodante Manuel was admitted ex-parte and thereafter the mortgaged properties in Dagupan City and Quezon City cannot be separately foreclosed.
petition was deemed submitted for resolution. Petitioners further point out that two notices of extra-judicial sale indicated that petitioners’
22 23
obligation is P10,437,015.20 each as of March 31, 1998 or a total of P20,874,030.40, yet
On September 30, 1999, petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss and to Strike Out Testimony of their own computation yields only P9,957,508.90 as of February 27, 1998.
Rodante Manuel stating that the Certificate of Sale dated September 14, 1998 is void because
respondent violated Article 2089 of the Civil Code on the indivisibility of the mortgaged by As to the second issue, petitioners posit that the pendency of Civil Case No. 99-03169-D is a
conducting two separate foreclosure proceedings on the mortgage properties in Dagupan City prejudicial issue, the resolution of which will render the issues in Spec. Proc. No. 99-00988-D
and Quezon City and indicating in the two notices of extra-judicial sale that petitioners’ obligation moot and academic. Petitioners further aver that they did not violate Section 8 of Act No. 3135 in
12
is P10,437,015.20 as of March 31, 1998, when petitioners are not indebted for the total amount filing a separate case to annul the certificate of sale since the use of the word "may" in said
13
of P20,874,031.56. provision indicates that they have the option to seek relief of filing a petition to annul the
certificate of sale in the proceeding involving the application for a writ of possession or in a
In the meantime, petitioners filed a complaint for Annulment of Certificate of Sale before the separate proceeding.
Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City, docketed as Civil Case No. 99-03169-D and raffled to
24
Branch 44 (RTC Branch 44). Respondent contends that, with respect to the first issue, the filing of two separate foreclosure
proceedings did not violate Article 2089 of the Civil Code on the indivisibility of a real estate
mortgage since Section 2 of Act No. 3135 expressly provides that extra-judicial foreclosure may
only be made in the province or municipality where the property is situated. Respondent further
submits that the filing of separate applications for extra-judicial foreclosure of mortgage involving to stipulation, such sale shall be made in said place or in the municipal building of the
several properties in different locations is allowed by A.M. No. 99-10-05-0, the Procedure on municipality in which the property or part thereof is situated.
Extra-Judicial Foreclosure of Mortgage, as further amended on August 7, 2001.
30
A.M. No. 99-10-05-0, the Procedure on Extra-Judicial Foreclosure of Mortgage, lays down the
As to the second issue, respondent maintains that there is no prejudicial question between Civil guidelines for extra-judicial foreclosure proceedings on mortgaged properties located in different
Case No. 99-03169-D and Spec. Proc. No. 99-00988-D since the pendency of a civil action provinces. It provides that the venue of the extra-judicial foreclosure proceedings is the place
questioning the validity of the mortgage and the extra-judicial foreclosure thereof does not bar where each of the mortgaged property is located. Relevant portion thereof provides:
the issuance of a writ of possession. Respondent also insists that petitioners should have filed
their Petition to Annul the Certificate of Sale in the same case where possession is being sought, Where the application concerns the extrajudicial foreclosure of mortgages of real estates and/or
that is, in Spec. Proc. No. 99-00988-D, and not in a separate proceeding (Civil Case No. 99- chattels in different locations covering one indebtedness, only one filing fee corresponding to
01369-D) because the venue of the action to question the validity of the foreclosure is not such indebtedness shall be collected. The collecting Clerk of Court shall, apart from the official
discretionary since the use of the word "may" in Section 8 of Act No. 3135 refers to the filing of receipt of the fees, issue a certificate of payment indicating the amount of indebtedness, the
the petition or action itself and not to the venue. Respondent further argues that even if filing fees collected, the mortgages sought to be foreclosed, the real estates and/or chattels
petitioners filed the Petition to Annul the Certificate of Sale in Spec. Proc. No. 99-00988-D, the mortgaged and their respective locations, which certificate shall serve the purpose of having
writ of possession must still be issued because issuance of the writ in favor of the purchaser is a the application docketed with the Clerks of Court of the places where the other properties
ministerial act of the trial court and the one-year period of redemption has already lapsed. are located and of allowing the extrajudicial foreclosures to proceed thereat. (Emphasis
supplied)
Anent the first issue, the Court finds that petitioners have a mistaken notion that the indivisibility
of a real estate mortgage relates to the venue of extra-judicial foreclosure proceedings. The rule The indivisibility of the real estate mortgage is not violated by conducting two separate
on indivisibility of a real estate mortgage is provided for in Article 2089 of the Civil Code, which foreclosure proceedings on mortgaged properties located in different provinces as long as each
provides: parcel of land is answerable for the entire debt. Petitioners’ assumption that their total obligation
is P20,874,030.40 because the two notices of extra-judicial sale indicated that petitioners’
31
Art. 2089. A pledge or mortgage is indivisible, even though the debt may be divided among the obligation is P10,437,015.20 each, is therefore flawed. Considering the indivisibility of a real
successors in interest of the debtor or of the creditor. estate mortgage, the mortgaged properties in Dagupan City and Quezon City are made to
32
answer for the entire debt of P10,437,015.29.
Therefore, the debtor’s heir who has paid a part of the debt cannot ask for the proportionate
extinguishment of the pledge or mortgage as the debt is not completely satisfied. As to the second issue, that is, whether a civil case for annulment of a certificate of sale is a
prejudicial question to a petition for issuance of a writ of possession, this issue is far from novel
33
Neither can the creditor’s heir who received his share of the debt return the pledge or cancel the and, in fact, not without precedence. In Pahang v. Vestil, the Court said:
mortgage, to the prejudice of the other heirs who have not been paid.
A prejudicial question is one that arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical antecedent
From these provisions is excepted the case in which, there being several things given in of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal. It
mortgage or pledge, each one of them guarantees only a determinate portion of the credit. generally comes into play in a situation where a civil action and a criminal action are both
pending and there exists in the former an issue that must be preemptively resolved before the
criminal action may proceed, because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved
The debtor, in this case, shall have a right to the extinguishment of the pledge or mortgage as would be determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal
the portion of the debt for which each thing is specially answerable is satisfied. case. The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting
decisions. 1avvph!l.net
25
This rule presupposes several heirs of the debtor or creditor and therefore not applicable to the
present case. Furthermore, what the law proscribes is the foreclosure of only a portion of the In the present case, the complaint of the petitioners for Annulment of Extrajudicial Sale is a civil
property or a number of the several properties mortgaged corresponding to the unpaid portion of action and the respondent’s petition for the issuance of a writ of possession of Lot No. 3-A, Block
the debt where, before foreclosure proceedings, partial payment was made by the debtor on his 1, Psd-07-021410, TCT No. 44668 is but an incident in the land registration case and, therefore,
total outstanding loan or obligation. This also means that the debtor cannot ask for the release of no prejudicial question can arise from the existence of the two actions. A similar issue was
any portion of the mortgaged property or of one or some of the several lots mortgaged unless raised in Manalo v. Court of Appeals, where we held that:
and until the loan thus secured has been fully paid, notwithstanding the fact that there has been
partial fulfillment of the obligation. Hence, it is provided that the debtor who has paid a part of the
debt cannot ask for the proportionate extinguishment of the mortgage as long as the debt is not At any rate, it taxes our imagination why the questions raised in Case No. 98-0868 must be
26
completely satisfied. In essence, indivisibility means that the mortgage obligation cannot be considered determinative of Case No. 9011. The basic issue in the former is whether the
27
divided among the different lots, that is, each and every parcel under mortgage answers for the respondent, as the purchaser in the extrajudicial foreclosure proceedings, may be compelled to
totality of the debt.
28 have the property repurchased or resold to a mortgagor’s successor-in-interest (petitioner); while
that in the latter is merely whether the respondent, as the purchaser in the extrajudicial
foreclosure proceedings, is entitled to a writ of possession after the statutory period for
On the other hand, the venue of the extra-judicial foreclosure proceedings is the place where redemption has expired. The two cases, assuming both are pending, can proceed separately
29
each of the mortgaged property is located, as prescribed by Section 2 of Act No. 3135, to wit: and take their own direction independent of each other.
34

SECTION 2. Said sale cannot be made legally outside of the province in which the property sold In the present case, Civil Case No. 99-01369-D and Spec. Proc. No. 99-00988-D are both civil in
is situated; and in case the place within said province in which the sale is to be made is subject nature. The issue in Civil Case No. 99-01369-D is whether the extra-judicial foreclosure of the
real estate mortgage executed by the petitioners in favor of the respondent and the sale of their Applying the foregoing criteria in the instant case, litis pendentia does not obtain in this case
properties at public auction are null and void, whereas, the issue in Spec. Proc. No. 99-00988-D because of the absence of the second and third requisites. The issuance of the writ of
is whether the respondent is entitled to a writ of possession of the foreclosed properties. Clearly, possession being a ministerial function, and summary in nature, it cannot be said to be a
no prejudicial question can arise from the existence of the two actions. The two cases can judgment on the merits, but simply an incident in the transfer of title. Hence, a separate case for
proceed separately and take their own direction independently of each other. annulment of mortgage and foreclosure sale cannot be barred by litis pendentia or res
39
judicata. Thus, insofar as Spec. Proc. No. 99-00988-D and Civil Case No. 99-03169-D pending
Nevertheless, there is a need to correct the CA’s view that petitioners violated Section 8 of Act before different branches of RTC Dagupan City are concerned, there is no litis pendentia.
No. 3135 and disregarded the proscription on multiplicity of suits by instituting a separate civil
suit for annulment of the certificate of sale while there is a pending petition for issuance of the To sum up, the Court holds that the rule on indivisibility of the real estate mortgage cannot be
writ of possession in a special proceeding. equated with the venue of foreclosure proceedings on mortgaged properties located in different
provinces since these are two unrelated concepts. Also, no prejudicial question can arise from
Section 8 of Act No. 3135 provides: the existence of a civil case for annulment of a certificate of sale and a petition for the issuance
of a writ of possession in a special proceeding since the two cases are both civil in nature which
can proceed separately and take their own direction independently of each other.
Sec. 8. Setting aside of sale and writ of possession. – The debtor may, in the proceedings in
which possession was requested, but not later than thirty days after the purchaser was given
possession, petition that the sale be set aside and the writ of possession cancelled, specifying Furthermore, since the one-year period to redeem the foreclosed properties lapsed on October
the damages suffered by him, because the mortgage was not violated or the sale was not made 1, 1999, title to the foreclosed properties had already been consolidated under the name of the
in accordance with the provisions hereof, and the court shall take cognizance of this petition in respondent. As the owner of the properties, respondent is entitled to its possession as a matter
40
accordance with the summary procedure provided for in section one hundred and twelve of Act of right. The issuance of a writ of possession over the properties by the trial court is merely a
Numbered Four hundred and ninety-six; and if it finds the complaint of the debtor justified, it shall ministerial function. As such, the trial court neither exercises its official discretion nor
41
dispose in his favor of all or part of the bond furnished by the person who obtained possession. judgment. Any question regarding the validity of the mortgage or its foreclosure cannot be a
42
Either of the parties may appeal from the order of the judge in accordance with section fourteen legal ground for refusing the issuance of a writ of possession. Regardless of the pending suit
of Act Numbered Four hundred and ninety-six; but the order of possession shall continue in for annulment of the certificate of sale, respondent is entitled to a writ of possession, without
43
effect during the pendency of the appeal. (Emphasis supplied) prejudice of course to the eventual outcome of said case.

Under the provision above cited, the mortgagor may file a petition to set aside the sale and for WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.
the cancellation of a writ of possession with the trial court which issued the writ of possession
within 30 days after the purchaser mortgagee was given possession. It provides the plain, SO ORDERED.
35
speedy, and adequate remedy in opposing the issuance of a writ of possession. Thus, this
provision presupposes that the trial court already issued a writ of possession. In Sps. Ong v.
36
Court of Appeals, the Court elucidated:

The law is clear that the purchaser must first be placed in possession of the mortgaged property
pending proceedings assailing the issuance of the writ of possession. If the trial court later finds
merit in the petition to set aside the writ of possession, it shall dispose in favor of the mortgagor
the bond furnished by the purchaser. Thereafter, either party may appeal from the order of the
judge in accordance with Section 14 of Act 496, which provides that "every order, decision, and
decree of the Court of Land Registration may be reviewed…in the same manner as an order,
decision, decree or judgment of a Court of First Instance (RTC) might be reviewed." The
rationale for the mandate is to allow the purchaser to have possession of the foreclosed property
37
without delay, such possession being founded on his right of ownership.

Accordingly, Section 8 of Act No. 3135 is not applicable to the present case since at the time of
the filing of the separate civil suit for annulment of the certificate of sale in RTC Branch 44, no
writ of possession was yet issued by RTC Branch 43.

Similarly, the Court rejects the CA’s application of the principle of litis pendentia to Civil Case
No. 99-03169-D in relation to Spec. Proc. No. 99-00988-D. Litis pendentia refers to that situation
wherein another action is pending between the same parties for the same cause of actions and
that the second action becomes unnecessary and vexatious. For litis pendentia to be invoked,
the concurrence of the following requisites is necessary: (a) identity of parties or at least such as
represent the same interest in both actions; (b) identity of rights asserted and reliefs prayed for,
the reliefs being founded on the same facts; and, (c) the identity in the two cases should be such
that the judgment that may be rendered in one would, regardless of which party is successful,
38
amount to res judicata in the other.
G.R. No. 171435 threatening legal action. According to these investors, WINCORP informed them that
PEARLBANK was the borrower of their investments. WINCORP alleged that it was unable to
ANTHONY T. REYES, repay its investors because of the failure of its fund borrowers, one of which was PEARLBANK,
to pay the loans extended to them by WINCORP.As proof of their claims, the investors
[4]
presented Confirmation Advices, Special Powers of Attorney and Certifications signed and
Petitioner, issued to them by WINCORP.

- versus - The period covered by these Confirmation Advices was from 25 January 2000 to 3 April 2000,
with said Confirmation Advices bearing the words Borrower: PEARLBANK Securities, Inc.
PEARLBANK SECURITIES, INC.,

Respondent.
PEARLBANK denied having any outstanding loan obligation with WINCORP or its investors.

DECISION

In reaction to the accusations against it, PEARLBANK immediately wrote Antonio T. Ong,
WINCORP President, demanding an explanation as to how and why PEARLBANK was made to
appear to be involved in its transactions. According to PEARLBANK, it did not get any reply from
WINCORP.
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

PEARLBANK alleged that WINCORPs acts of stating and making it appear in several
Confirmation Advices, Special Powers of Attorney and Certifications that PEARLBANK was the
borrower of funds from the lenders/investors of WINCORP constituted falsification of commercial
and private documents.
In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, petitioner
[1]
Anthony T. Reyes prays for the reversal of the 26 October 2005 Decision and 7 February 2006
[2]
Resolution of the Court of Appeals in Anthony T. Reyes v. Secretary of the Department of
Justice and Pearlbank Securities, Inc., docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 90006, ruling that the
Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) did not commit grave abuse of discretion in While PEARLBANK admitted obtaining loans from WINCORP, it alleged that these accounts
finding probable cause to charge petitioner Reyes with the crime of falsification of commercial were settled by way of an offsetting arrangement. Thus, the promissory notes executed by
and private documents. PEARLBANK covering such loans were allegedly all stamped cancelled. It denied obtaining
loans from WINCORP or its lenders/investors from the period 11 December 1998 to 18 January
1999 due to the fact that there was no valid and effective grant of a credit facility in favor of
PEARLBANK during the said period.
Pearlbank Securities, Inc. (PEARLBANK) is a domestic corporation engaged in the securities
business.

On 3 April 2000, PEARLBANK served on WINCORP a final demand letter asking for a full and
accurate accounting of the identities and investments of the lenders/investors and the alleged
loan obligations of PEARLBANK, with the supporting records and documents including the
Westmont Investment Corporation (WINCORP) is a domestic corporation operating as an
purported Confirmation Advices.
investment house. Among the services rendered by WINCORP to its clients in the ordinary
course of its business as an investment house is the arranging and brokering of loans. Petitioner
Anthony T. Reyes was formerly the Vice President for Operations and Administration of
[3]
WINCORP.
WINCORP, however, still did not heed the demands of PEARLBANK and failed to produce
the loan agreement documents it allegedly executed with the latter.

PEARLBANK alleged that in March 2000, it received various letters from persons who invested
in WINCORP demanding payment of their matured investments, which WINCORP failed to pay,
On 7 April 2000, PEARLBANK filed two complaints with the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) against Ong and several John Does for full and accurate accounting of the
investments of WINCORP and of PEARLBANKs alleged loan obligations to WINCORP and/or its On 18 June 2001, Prosecutor Estherbella N. Rances of the DOJ Task Force on Financial Fraud
investors. The cases were docketed as SEC Cases No. 04-00-6590 and 04-00-6591. issued a Review Resolution recommending the filing of Informations for falsification of
commercial and private documents by private individuals against petitioner Reyes, Ong, Briones,
Lucena, Espiritu, and Tamundong.

On 6 September 2000, Juanita U. Tan, Treasurer of PEARLBANK, filed a complaint on behalf of


PEARLBANK for falsification by private individuals of commercial and private
documents before the DOJ. The case was docketed as I.S. No. 2000-1491. Named On 21 August 2001, prior to the expiry of the period to file a motion for reconsideration,
respondents in the complaint were the officers and directors of WINCORP, to wit: petitioner Informations for Falsification of Commercial and Private Documents under paragraphs 1 and 2,
[5]
herein Anthony T. Reyes, Antonio T. Ong, Gilda C. Lucena, Nemesio R. Briones, Loida C. [7] [8]
Article 172, in relation to paragraph 2 of Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code, were filed
[6]
Tamundong, Eric R.G. Espiritu, and John or Jane Does. against petitioner, Ong, Briones, Lucena, Espiritu, and Tamundong before Branch 2 of the
Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) of Manila apparently relying on the Rances resolution dated 18
June 2001. The cases were docketed as Criminal Cases No. 365255-88.

In answer to the complaint of PEARLBANK in I.S. No. 2000-1491, WINCORP, through Ong,
explained that among the services offered by WINCORP was the arranging and/or brokering of
loans for clients. Upon application of PEARLBANK, WINCORP agreed to arrange and/or broker On 28 August 2001, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the 18 June 2001 Resolution
loans on behalf of the former. Thus, in a meeting of its Board of Directors on 28 November 1995, of Prosecutor Rances. He raised the issues earlier brought up by Ong, Briones, Lucena, Espiritu
WINCORP approved a credit line in favor of PEARLBANK in the amount of P250M. and Tamundong, contending there was lack of probable cause and that there existed a
prejudicial question. The other respondents in the criminal complaint filed a separate joint motion
[9]
for reconsideration on 4 September 2001.

According to Ong, pursuant to this Credit Line Agreement, PEARLBANK was able to obtain,
through the brokerage of WINCORP, loans from several lenders/investors in the total amount
of P324,050,474.24 for which PEARLBANK issued promissory notes from 1995 to 1996. The Meanwhile, on 13 November 2001, petitioner filed an Urgent Motion to Suspend Proceedings
Credit Line Agreement was renewed for another year or up to 25 October 1996. PEARLBANK and to Defer Arraignment of Accused before the MTC of Manila where the criminal cases were
made payments, leaving a balance of around P300M on the loan. On 28 April 1997, the Credit pending, leading to the cancellation of the arraignment scheduled for 21 November 2001.
Line Agreement was amended and the credit line was increased from P250M to P850M. On 11
December 1998, PEARLBANK arranged with WINCORP to transact additional loans from
lenders in the amount of P200M, the proceeds of which were deposited in the account of Farmix
Fertilizers, Inc., a corporation wholly owned and/or controlled by Manuel Tankiansee and Juanita
Uy Tan. Following the previous procedure, WINCORP prepared the promissory notes Citing no cogent reason to modify or reverse the assailed 18 June 2001 Resolution, Prosecutor
corresponding to the additional loans, totaling P200M, and forwarded said documents to Rances denied the two motions for reconsideration filed by petitioner and his co-respondents in
PEARLBANK. WINCORP maintains, however, that the promissory notes were never returned. a Resolution issued on 13 December 2001.
WINCORP issued the standard Confirmation Advices to the lenders of PEARLBANK for said
loans. Although the promissory notes were stamped terminated or cancelled, the renewal
promissory notes were not sent back/returned by PEARLBANK to WINCORP.
Ong, Briones, Lucena, Espiritu, and Tamundong appealed the 13 December 2001
[10]
Resolution to the Office of the DOJ Secretary while petitioner filed a Petition for Review with
[11]
the same office.
From the foregoing, WINCORP asserted that PEARLBANK was accurately designated as the
borrower from the lenders/investors. The Confirmation Advices, Special Powers of Attorney, and
Certifications it issued to the lenders/investors, indicating PEARLBANK as the borrower, were
prepared in good faith and in accordance with the records of WINCORP. Hence, the officers and
On 27 June 2003, Undersecretary (Usec.) Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez (representing the Office
directors named as respondents in I.S. No. 2000-1491 who prepared, signed, and reviewed
of the DOJ Secretary) resolved the appeal and Petition for Review in a joint Resolution reversing
such documents denied having falsified them.
the Resolutions dated 18 June 2001 and 13 December 2001 of Prosecutor Rances. In ruling that
the complaint in I.S. No. 2000-1491 should be dismissed, Usec. Gutierrez took into
consideration the following:

On 2 January 2001, Ong, Lucena, Briones, Tamundong and Espiritu filed a Motion to Admit
Attached Memorandum before the DOJ, asserting that the criminal complaint against them
should be dismissed for lack of probable cause or suspended due to the existence of a
(1) That the confirmation advices were mere renewals forming part of the earlier loans of
prejudicial question involving the SEC cases.
PEARLBANK under an existing credit line agreement;
In said Resolution, DOJ Secretary Datumanong explained that while Eric R. G. Espiritu was one
of the signatories of the Certifications, considering the nature of the certifications in question and
(2) That [petitioner, Ong, Lucena, Briones, Tamundong, and Espiritu] are mere employees of his duties and functions, it would appear that he was entitled to rely on the Certifications and
WINCORP performing perfunctory functions in good faith; representations of those in the Treasury group. The DOJ Secretary ratiocinated that there was
no prejudicial question involved, since the existence of an outstanding obligation on the part of
PEARLBANK under its Credit Line with WINCORP was irrelevant and immaterial to the
falsification cases, and shall not be determinative of the outcome of said falsification
cases. Explaining further, he said that it was clear from the admissions of respondents therein
(3) That Confirmation Advices are not commercial documents; that the loans reflected in the Confirmation Advices, which appeared to be new loans, were
matched against the alleged outstanding loans of complainant.

(4) That SEC Case No. 0400-6590, is a prejudicial question, involving issues which are
intimately related to the issues in the present case. On 8 January 2004, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the 4 December 2003
[16]
Resolution of the DOJ Secretary.

On the other hand, his co-respondents filed a separate motion for reconsideration on 16 January
[17]
2004.

Thus, the Office of the DOJ Secretary ordered the Office of the Chief State Prosecutor to move
[12]
for the withdrawal of the Informations from the MTC.
On 1 March 2005, DOJ Secretary Datumanong denied both motions for reconsideration.

PEARLBANK filed a motion for reconsideration with the Office of the DOJ Secretary for the
[13]
setting aside of its 27 June 2003 Resolution, with a motion praying that DOJ Usec. Gutierrez Petitioner sought recourse with the Court of Appeals via a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of
inhibit herself from the proceedings. the 1997 Revised Rules of Court, docketed as CA-G.R. No. 90006. Petitioner sought the
nullification of the 4 December 2003 DOJ Resolution based on the following arguments:

On 4 December 2003, DOJ Secretary Simeon Datumanong issued a Resolution granting the
[14]
motion for reconsideration of PEARLBANK. (a) petitioner did not make any untruthful statements in the Confirmation Advices since
[PEARLBANK] allegedly has an outstanding obligation with Westmont Investment Corporation;

In effect, DOJ Secretary Datumanong reversed the 27 June 2003 Resolution of Usec. Gutierrez
and reinstated the 18 June 2001 Resolution of Prosecutor Rances finding probable cause to (b) WINCORPs Confirmation Advices subject of the falsification case were not commercial
charge petitioner and other respondents in I.S. No. 2000-149, except for Eric R. G. Espiritu, for documents; and
the crime of falsification of commercial and private documents:

(c) a prejudicial question exists warranting the suspension of proceedings in the falsification
WHEREFORE, the resolution dated 27 June 2003 (Resolution No. 283, Series of 2003) is case.
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Chief State Prosecutors Review Resolution dated 18
June 2001 is hereby REINSTATED, with the MODIFICATION that respondent ERIC R.G.
ESPIRITU should be excluded. The Chief State Prosecutor is directed to cause the amendment
of the informations filed against said respondent Espiritu by excluding him therefrom, and to
[15]
report the action taken hereon within ten (10) days from receipt hereof.

During the pendency of the petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals, petitioner filed an
Urgent Ex Parte Motion to Suspend Further Proceedings before the same MTC Court on 11 July
2005, contending that Criminal Case Nos. 365255 to 88 should be suspended, since he had
filed a pending Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with the Court of
Appeals to annul the 4 December 2003 and 1 March 2005 Resolution of the DOJ.
III.

On 26 October 2005, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision dismissing CA-G.R. No.
90006. The appellate court found that the DOJ Secretary did not commit grave abuse of
discretion in finding that there was probable cause for holding that petitioner was guilty of the THE COURT OF APPEALS DEPARTED FROM THE ACCEPTED AND USUAL COURSE OF
offense charged. It noted that the Informations were already filed against petitioner before JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS WHEN IT UPHELD THE DOJ RESOLUTIONS WHICH DID NOT
Branch 2 of the MTC of the National Capital Region (NCR), and petitioners liability for the crime ONLY FAIL TO CONSIDER THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD. LIKEWISE, THE COURT OF
of falsification of commercial and private documents could best be threshed out at the trial on the APPEALS SANCTIONED THESE RESOLUTIONS WHICH WERE NOT IN ACCORD WITH
merits of the case. EXISTING LAW AND SUPREME COURT DECISIONS ON PREJUDICIAL QUESTIONS.

On 7 February 2006, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution denying petitioners motion for IV.
reconsideration.

THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS LEGAL ERROR AND DEPARTED FROM
Petitioner thus filed this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of THE ACCEPTED AND USUAL COURSE OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS WHEN IT UPHELD
Court, making the following assignment of errors: THE DOJS CLASSIFICATION OF THE CONFIRMATION ADVICES SUBJECT OF THE
CASE A QUO AS COMMERCIAL DOCUMENTS, A CLASSIFICATION WHICH IS CONTRARY
TO ITS OWN EARLIER DETERMINATION AND THAT OF THE DOJ.

I.

THE COURT OF APPEALS SANCTIONED A DEPARTURE FROM ACCEPTED AND USUAL Essentially, petitioner avers that his rights to due process and equal protection of the law were
COURSE OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS WHEN IT ALLOWED THE ARBITRARY AND jeopardized when DOJ Secretary Datumanong issued his 4 December 2004 Resolution affirming
CAPRICIOUS EXERCISE BY THE DOJ OF ITS POWER TO DETERMINE PROBABLE the finding of probable cause against him and the other respondents in I.S. No. 2000-1491, and
CAUSE. THE DOJ COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN ISSUING ITS 4 reversing the earlier 27 June 2003 Resolution of his Office, which ordered the dismissal of the
DECEMBER 2003 AND 1 MARCH 2005 RESOLUTIONS. complaint of PEARLBANK, there being no new evidence presented between the two
Resolutions. He further accuses the DOJ Secretary of violating his right to the equal protection
of the law by dismissing the charges against Espiritu, another respondent in I.S. No. 2000-1491,
but not those against him. He insists that the charges against him must be dismissed, arguing
that he and Espiritu are similarly situated.
II.

Petitioner prays that the Court nullify and set aside the Court of Appeals Decision dated 26
THE CONSTITUTION EXPRESSLY PROVIDES THAT NO PERSON SHALL BE DENIED THE October 2005 and Resolution dated 7 February 2006 in CA-G.R. No. 90006, there being no
EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAWS. HOWEVER, THE COURT OF APPEALS probable cause to charge him with the crimes of falsification of commercial and private
COUNTENANCED THE DOJS VIOLATION OF SUCH CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF documents. He further alleges that the proceedings in Criminal Cases No. 365255-88 should be
PETITIONER WHEN THE DOJ DISMISSED THE CHARGES AGAINST MR. ERIC R. G. suspended pending resolution of the two SEC Cases which have now been transferred to the
ESPIRITU AND YET FOUND PROBABLE CAUSE AGAINST HEREIN PETITIONER EVEN AS jurisdiction of, and are now pending before, the Regional Trial Courts of Makati on the ground
BOTH ARE SIMILARLY SITUATED. that the these cases constitute a prejudicial question.

This Court finds the present petition to be without merit and accordingly denies the same.
For this reason, the Court considers it sound judicial policy to refrain from interfering in the
conduct of preliminary investigations and to leave the Department of Justice ample latitude of
The issues presented by petitioner may be narrowed down to two: discretion in the determination of what constitutes sufficient evidence to establish probable
cause for the prosecution of supposed offenders. Consistent with this policy, courts do not
reverse the Secretary of Justices findings and conclusions on the matter of probable cause
(a) whether or not there is probable cause to file an information for falsification of private and except in clear cases of grave abuse of discretion.
[26]
commercial documents against petitioner; and

The restraint exercised by this Court in interfering with the determination of probable cause by
(b) whether the two cases before the SEC are prejudicial questions which have to be resolved the prosecutor, unless there is grave abuse of discretion, is only consistent with the general rule
before the criminal cases may proceed. that criminal prosecutions may not be restrained or stayed by injunction, preliminary or
[27]
final. There are, however, exceptions to this rule, none of which are obtaining in the case now
before us.

Probable cause, for the purpose of filing a criminal information, has been defined as such facts In the present case, petitioner was not able to convince this Court to deviate from the general
as are sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and that rule of non-interference. The Court of Appeals did not err in dismissing petitioners application for
[18]
respondent is probably guilty thereof. The term does not mean actual and positive cause nor a writ of certiorari, absent grave abuse of discretion on the part of the DOJ Secretary in finding
does it import absolute certainty. It is merely based on opinion and reasonable belief. Probable probable cause against him for the falsification of commercial and private documents.
cause does not require an inquiry into whether there is sufficient evidence to procure a
conviction. It is enough that it is believed that the act or omission complained of constitutes the In D.M. Consunji, Inc. v. Esguerra,
[28]
we defined grave abuse of discretion in this wise:
[19]
offense charged.

By grave abuse of discretion is meant, such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is
A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that more likely than not a equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be grave as where the power is
crime has been committed by the suspects. It need not be based on clear and convincing exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility and must
evidence of guilt, not on evidence establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and definitely not be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to
[20]
on evidence establishing absolute certainty of guilt. In determining probable cause, the perform the duty enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of law.
average man weighs facts and circumstances without resorting to the calibrations of the rules of
[21]
evidence of which he has no technical knowledge. He relies on common sense. What is
determined is whether there is sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime
has been committed, and that the accused is probably guilty thereof and should be held for
trial. It does not require an inquiry as to whether there is sufficient evidence to secure a
conviction.
Contrary to the claims of petitioner, the Court of Appeals did not perfunctorily or mechanically
deny his Petition for Certiorari therein. A comprehensive review of the assailed Decision of the
appellate court readily reveals that it considered and judiciously passed upon all the arguments
These findings of probable cause fall within the jurisdiction of the prosecutor or fiscal in the presented by both parties before finally decreeing the dismissal of petitioners Petition
exercise of executive power, which the courts do not interfere with unless there is grave abuse for Certiorari.
of discretion. The determination of its existence lies within the discretion of the prosecuting
officers after conducting a preliminary investigation upon complaint of an offended party. Thus,
the decision whether to dismiss a complaint or not is dependent upon the sound discretion of the
[22]
prosecuting fiscal. He may dismiss the complaint forthwith, if he finds the charge insufficient in Although no new evidence was presented by the parties from the time the first Resolution was
form or substance or without any ground. Or he may proceed with the investigation if the issued by DOJ Usec. Gutierrez on 7 June 2003 until the second Resolution was issued by DOJ
complaint in his view is sufficient and in proper form. To emphasize, the determination of Secretary Datumanong on 4 December 2004, the DOJ Secretary is not precluded from making
probable cause for the filing of information in court is an executive function, one that properly inferences of fact and conclusions of law which may be different from, contrary to, or even
pertains at the first instance to the public prosecutor and, ultimately, to the Secretary of Justice, entirely abandoning, the findings made by DOJ Usec. Gutierrez although they were both faced
who may direct the filing of the corresponding information or move for the dismissal of the with the same evidence and arguments.
[23]
case. Ultimately, whether or not a complaint will be dismissed is dependent on the sound
[24]
discretion of the Secretary of Justice. And unless made with grave abuse of discretion,
[25]
findings of the Secretary of Justice are not subject to review.
First, it must be noted that DOJ Secretary Datumanong issued his Resolution of 4 December While the right to equal protection of the law requires that litigants are treated in an equal
[30]
2004 upon the filing by PEARLBANK of a motion for reconsideration of the Resolution dated 7 manner by giving them the same rights under similar circumstances, it may not be perversely
June 2003 of DOJ Usec. Gutierrez entirely dismissing its complaint. The 4 December 2004 used to justify desistance by the authorities from prosecution of a criminal case, just because not
Resolution, therefore, of DOJ Secretary Datumanong was the result of his acting on, and all of those who are probably guilty thereof were charged.
granting of, the motion for reconsideration of PEARLBANK. The purpose of a motion for
reconsideration is precisely to request the court or quasi-judicial body to take a second look at its
earlier judgment and correct any errors it may have committed therein.
Petitioner further insists that the proceedings in SEC Cases No. 04-00-6590 and No. 04-00-
[31]
6591, now pending before the RTC of Makati (civil cases), warrant the suspension of Criminal
Cases No. 365255-88. (criminal cases).
Second, it cannot be said that DOJ Secretary Datumanongs final ruling is entirely without basis
when, in fact, Reviewing Prosecutor Rances had earlier made a similar finding on 18 June 2001
that there was probable cause to believe that petitioner and the other respondents in I.S. No.
2000-1491 were guilty of falsification of commercial and private documents, based on essentially
the same evidence and arguments. We disagree.

And finally, DOJ Secretary Datumanong exhaustively presented in his 4 December 2004 the Under Rule 111 of the Revised Rules of Court, a criminal action may be suspended upon the
legal and factual reasons for his reversal of the 27 June 2003 Resolution of DOJ Usec. pendency of a prejudicial question in a civil action, to wit:
Gutierrez, which negated petitioners assertion of capriciousness, whimsicality, or arbitrariness
on his part.

Sec. 6. Suspension by reason of prejudicial question. - A petition for suspension of the criminal
action based upon the pendency of a prejudicial question in a civil action may be filed in the
Equally without merit is petitioners assertion that upon dismissal of the charges against his co- office of the prosecutor or the court conducting the preliminary investigation. When the criminal
respondent Espiritu, those against him must likewise be dismissed. Petitioner insists that if the action has been filed in court for trial, the petition to suspend shall be filed in court for trial, and
charges against an accused rest upon the same evidence used to charge a co-accused, the shall be filed in the same criminal action at any time before the prosecution rests.
dismissal of the charges against the former should benefit the latter.

This is flawed reasoning, a veritable non sequitur.


A prejudicial question is defined as one which arises in a case the resolution of which is a
logical antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another
[32]
tribunal.
Suffice it to say that it is indubitably within the discretion of the prosecutor to determine who
[29]
must be charged with what crime or for what offense. In Webb v. De Leon in which the
petitioners questioned the non-inclusion of Alfaro in the Information for rape with homicide filed
against them, despite Alfaros alleged conspiratorial participation in the crime charged, this Court The prejudicial question must be determinative of the case before the court, but the jurisdiction
pronounced that: to try and resolve the question must be lodged in another court or tribunal. It is a question based
on a fact distinct and separate from the crime, but so intimately connected with it that it
determines the guilt or innocence of the accused; and for it to suspend the criminal action, it
must appear not only that said case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the
criminal prosecution would be based, but also that in the resolution of the issue or issues raised
[T]he prosecution of crimes appertains to the executive department of government whose in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be determined.
[33]

principal power and responsibility is to see that our laws are faithfully executed. A necessary
component of this power to execute our laws is the right to prosecute their violators. The right to
prosecute vests the prosecutor with a wide range of discretion---the discretion of whether, what It comes into play generally in a situation in which a civil action and a criminal action are both
and whom to charge, the exercise of which depends on a smorgasboard of factors which are pending and there exists in the former an issue which must be preemptively resolved before the
best appreciated by prosecutors x x x. criminal action may proceed, because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved
would be determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal
[34]
case.
The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting mentioned, and having falsified said document in the manner stated, the said accused issued a
decisions. Based on Section 7 of the same rule, it has two essential elements: copy of the said document, which has not been notarized before a notary public or other person
legally authorized to do so, the accused issued the said document to, and was received by one
Tiu K. Tiac to the damage and prejudice of PEARLBANK SECURITIES, INC., represented by its
Treasurer and Director Juanita U. Tan.
Sec. 7. Elements of prejudicial question. - The elements of a prejudicial question are: (a) the
previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised
in the subsequent criminal action, and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not
the criminal action may proceed.

The principal issue to be resolved in the criminal cases is whether or not petitioner committed
the acts referred to in the Informations, and whether or not these would constitute falsification of
commercial and private documents under the law.

[35]
In Sabandal v. Tongco, this Court had the opportunity to further expound on the resolution of
prejudicial questions in this manner:
In contrast, the issues to be resolved in SEC Case No. 04-00-6591 are as follows:

(1) whether or not Tankiansee is entitled to the accounting and disclosure


If both civil and criminal cases have similar issues or the issue in one is intimately related to the pursuant to Section 74, Tile VII of the Corporation Code of the Philippines;
issues raised in the other, then a prejudicial question would likely exist, provided the other
element or characteristic is satisfied. It must appear not only that the civil case involves the
same facts upon which the criminal prosecution would be based, but also that the resolution of
the issues raised in the civil action would be necessarily determinative of the guilt or innocence (2) whether or not Tankiansee is entitled to be furnished copies of the records
of the accused. If the resolution of the issue in the civil action will not determine the criminal or documents demanded from WINCORP;
responsibility of the accused in the criminal action based on the same facts, or there is no
necessity that the civil case be determined first before taking up the criminal case, therefore, the
civil case does not involve a prejudicial question. Neither is there a prejudicial question if the civil
and the criminal action can, according to law, proceed independently of each other.
(3) whether or not WINCORP is liable to Tankiansee for damages.

There is no prejudicial question here.


SEC Case No. 04-00-6590 involves the following issues:

We note that the Informations filed in the criminal cases charge petitioner and his other c o-
accused with falsification of commercial and private documents under paragraph 1 of Article (1) whether or not PEARLBANK has loan obligations with WINCORP or its
172, in relation to paragraph 2 of Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code; and paragraph 2 of stockholders;
Article 172, in relation to paragraph 2 of Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code, in signing and/or
issuing the questioned Confirmation Advices, Special Powers of Attorney and Certifications on
behalf of WINCORP, stating therein that PEARLBANK owed the third parties (lenders and
[36]
investors). Each of the Informations alleged that the therein named accused:
(2) whether or not the subject Confirmation Advices and other related documents
should be declared to be without force and effect or if PEARLBANK is entitled to be relieved of
the legal effects thereof;

x x x confederating and conspiring together, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously prepare, execute and sign a Confirmation Advice of WINCORP x x x to make it
appear in the said commercial document that PEARLBANK SECURITIES, INC., a corporation
(3) whether or not defendants therein are liable for damages to PEARLBANK as a
legally established, is a borrower of WINCORP, having allegedly secured and granted a loan in [37]
consequence of this alleged fraudulent scheme.
the amount of x x x when in truth and in fact, the said accused well knew that PEARLBANK
SECURITIES, INC. had not secured nor had been granted said loan on the date above-
A cursory reading of the above-mentioned issues would show that, although apparently arising
from the same set of facts, the issues in the criminal and civil cases are clearly different from
one another. Furthermore, the issues in the civil cases are not determinative of the issues in the
criminal cases.

Petitioner particularly calls attention to the purported prejudicial issue in the civil cases: whether
PEARLBANK has outstanding loan obligations to WINCORP or its
stockholders/investors. Although said issue may be related to those in the criminal cases
instituted against petitioner, we actually find it immaterial to the resolution of the latter.

That PEARLBANK does have outstanding loans with WINCORP or its stockholders/investors is
not an absolute defense in, and would not be determinative of the outcome of, the criminal
cases. Even if the RTC so rules in the civil cases, it would not necessarily mean that these were
the very same loan transactions reflected in the Confirmation Advices, Special Powers of
Attorney and Certifications issued by WINCORP to its stockholders/investors, totally relieving
petitioner and his other co-accused from any criminal liability for falsification. The questioned
documents specifically made it appear that PEARLBANK obtained the loans during the first four
months of the year 2000.Hence, in the criminal cases, it is not enough that it be established that
PEARLBANK has outstanding loans with WINCORP or its stockholders/investors, but also that
these loans were acquired by PEARLBANK as WINCORP made it to appear in the questioned
documents it issued to its stockholders/investors. This only demonstrates that the resolution of
the two civil cases is not juris et de jure determinative of the innocence or guilt of the petitioner
in the criminal cases.

Finally, we note that the criminal cases were already instituted and pending before the
MTC. Petitioner would have the opportunity to present the arguments and evidence in his
defense in the course of the trial of said cases which will now proceed by virtue of this Decision.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition for Review


on Certiorari is DENIED. The Decision dated 26 October 2005 and Resolution dated 7 February
2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 90006 are hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against
petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
COCA-COLA BOTTLERS (PHILS.), G.R. No. 159323 consideration of the retainers fee, Dr. Climaco agrees to perform the duties and
[10] [11]
obligations enumerated in the Comprehensive Medical Plan, which was attached and made
INC. and ERIC MONTINOLA, an integral part of the agreement.

Petitioners,

- versus - Explicit in the contract, however, is the provision that no employee-employer relationship shall
[12]
exist between the company and Dr. Climaco while the contract is in effect. In case of its
termination, Dr. Climaco shall be entitled only to such retainer fee as may be due him at the time
SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSION Promulgated: of termination.
[13]

and DR. DEAN CLIMACO,

Respondents. July 31, 2008

DECISION Dr. Climaco continuously served as the company physician, performing all the duties stipulated
in the Retainer Agreement and the Comprehensive Medical Plan. By 1992, his salary was
[14]
increased to P7,500.00 per month.

REYES, R.T., J.: Meantime, Dr. Climaco inquired with the Department of Labor and Employment and
the SSS whether he was an employee of the company. Both agencies replied in the
[15] [16]
affirmative. As a result, Dr. Climaco filed a complaint before the National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC), Bacolod City. In his complaint, he sought recognition as a regular
employee of the company and demanded payment of his 13th month pay, cost of living
[17]
allowance, holiday pay, service incentive leave pay, Christmas bonus and all other benefits.

WE are confronted with triple remedial issues on prejudicial question, forum shopping,
and litis pendentia.

During the pendency of the complaint, the company terminated its Retainer Agreement with Dr.
[18]
Climaco. Thus, Dr. Climaco filed another complaint for illegal dismissal against the company
[1]
before the NLRC Bacolod City. He asked that he be reinstated to his former position as
We review on certiorari the Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) upholding the order of the company physician of its Bacolod Plant, without loss of seniority rights, with full payment of
[2] [19]
Social Security Commission (SSC), denying petitioners motion to dismiss backwages, other unpaid benefits, and for payment of damages.
respondent Climacos petition for compulsory coverage with the Social Security System (SSS).

[20]
The Labor Arbiter, in each of the complaints, ruled in favor of petitioner company. The first
The Facts complaint was dismissed after Labor Arbiter Jesus N. Rodriguez, Jr. found that the company did
not have the power of control over Dr. Climacos performance of his duties and
responsibilities. The validity of the Retainer Agreement was also recognized.Labor Arbiter
Benjamin Pelaez likewise dismissed the second complaint in view of the dismissal of the first
Petitioner Coca-Cola Bottlers (Phils.), Inc. is a corporation engaged in the manufacture and sale complaint.
[3]
of softdrink beverages. Co-petitioner Eric Montinola was the general manager of its plant
[4]
in Bacolod City. Respondent Dr. Dean Climaco was a former retainer physician at the
[5]
companys plant in Bacolod City.
[21]
On appeal, the NLRC, Fourth Division, Cebu City, affirmed the Arbiter disposition. On petition
[22]
for review before the CA, the NLRC ruling was reversed. The appellate court ruled that using
the four-fold test, an employer-employee relationship existed between the company and Dr.
[23]
[6] Climaco. Petitioners elevated the case through a petition for review on certiorari before this
In 1988, petitioner company and Dr. Climaco entered into a Retainer Agreement for one year,
[7]
with a monthly compensation of P3,800.00, where he may charge professional fees for hospital Court.
[8]
services rendered in line with his specialization. The agreement further provided that either
[9]
party may terminate the contract upon giving thirty (30)-day written notice to the other. In
Meantime, on November 9, 1994, while the NLRC cases were pending, Dr. Climaco filed with
[24]
the SSC in Bacolod City, a petition praying, among others, that petitioner Coca-Cola Bottlers
(Phils.), Inc. be ordered to report him for compulsory social security coverage. SO ORDERED.
[30]

[31] [32]
Petitioners motion for reconsideration received the same fate.

On April 12, 1995, petitioners moved for the dismissal of the petition on the ground of lack of
jurisdiction. They argued that there is no employer-employee relationship between the company
[25]
and Dr. Climaco; and that his services were engaged by virtue of a Retainer Agreement.
On April 29, 1997, the company filed a petition for certiorari before the CA. On March 15, 2002,
the CA dismissed the petition, with a fallo reading:

[26]
Dr. Climaco opposed the motion. According to Dr. Climaco, [t]he fact that the petitioner [i.e.,
respondent Dr. Climaco] does not enjoy the other benefits of the company is a question that is
being raised by the petitioner in his cases filed with the National Labor Relations Commission WHEREFORE, under the premises, the Court holds that public respondent Social Security
(NLRC), Bacolod City, against the respondent [i.e., petitioner company].
[27] Commission did not act with grave abuse of discretion in issuing the disputed orders, and the
herein petition is therefore DISMISSED for want of merit.

[33]
SO ORDERED.

Hence, the present recourse.


On July 24, 1995, the SSC issued an order stating among others, that the resolution of petitioner
[28]
companys motion to dismiss is held in abeyance pending reception of evidence of the parties.

Issues

In view of the statements of Dr. Climaco in his opposition to the companys motion to dismiss,
petitioners again, on March 1, 1996, moved for the dismissal of Dr. Climacos complaint, this time
[29]
on the grounds of forum shopping and litis pendentia. Petitioners raise the following issues for Our consideration:

SSC and CA Dispositions WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
RENDERING THE ASSAILED RESOLUTIONS, HAVING DECIDED A QUESTION
OF SUBSTANCE IN A WAY NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND THE APPLICABLE
DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE COURT, CONSIDERING THAT:
On January 17, 1997, the SSC denied petitioners motion to dismiss, disposing as follows:

I.
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the respondents Motion to Dismiss is hereby denied
for lack of merit. THE PREVIOUS COMPLAINT FOR REGULARIZATION AND/OR ILLEGAL DISMISSAL,
WHICH IS NOW PENDING RESOLUTION BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT, POSES A
PREJUDICIAL QUESTION TO THE SUBJECT OF THE PRESENT CASE.

Accordingly, let this case be remanded to SSS Bacolod Branch Office for reception of evidence
of the parties pursuant to the Order dated July 24, 1995.
II.
GIVEN THE ATTENDANT CIRCUMSTANCES, RESPONDENT CLIMACO IS GUILTY OF
FORUM SHOPPING, WHICH THEREBY CALLED FOR THE OUTRIGHT DISMISSAL OF HIS
PETITION BEFORE THE SOCIAL SECURITY COMMISSION. Our concept of prejudicial question was lifted from Spain, where civil cases are tried exclusively
by civil courts, while criminal cases are tried exclusively in criminal courts. Each kind of court is
jurisdictionally distinct from and independent of the other. In the Philippines, however, courts are
invariably tribunals of general jurisdiction. This means that courts here exercise jurisdiction over
III. both civil and criminal cases. Thus, it is not impossible that the criminal case, as well as the civil
case in which a prejudicial question may rise, may be both pending in the same court. For this
reason, the elements of prejudicial question have been modified in such a way that the phrase
THE PETITION SHOULD HAVE ALSO BEEN DISMISSED OUTRIGHT ON THE GROUND pendency of the civil case in a different tribunal has been eliminated.
[36]
OF LITIS PENDENTIA, AS THERE ARE OTHER ACTIONS PENDING BETWEEN THE SAME
[34]
PARTIES FOR THE SAME CAUSE OF ACTION. (Underscoring supplied)

The rule is that there is prejudicial question when (a) the previously instituted civil action
involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the subsequent
Our Ruling criminal action, and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the
[37]
criminal action may proceed. It comes into play generally in a situation where a civil action
and a criminal action both pend and there exists in the former an issue which must be
preemptively resolved before the criminal action may proceed. This is so because howsoever
The petition fails. the issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be determinative juris et de jure of the guilt
[38]
or innocence of the accused in the criminal case.

The Court notes that petitioners, in their petition, averred that the appeal from the NLRC and CA [39]
dispositions on the illegal dismissal of respondent Climaco is still pending with this Court. Upon Here, no prejudicial question exists because there is no pending criminal case. The
verification, however, it was unveiled that the said case had already been decided by this Courts consolidated NLRC cases cannot be considered as previously instituted civil
[40]
First Division on February 5, 2007. action. In Berbari v. Concepcion, it was held that a prejudicial question is understood in law to
be that which must precede the criminal action, that which requires a decision with which
said question is closely related.

Neither can the doctrine of prejudicial question be applied by analogy. The issue in the
While we deplore the failure of petitioners and counsel in updating the Court on the resolution of
case filed by Dr. Climaco with the SSC involves the question of whether or not he is an
the said related case, We hasten to state that it did not operate to moot the issues pending
employee of Coca-Cola Bottlers (Phils.), Inc. and subject to the compulsory coverage of the
before Us. We take this opportunity to address the questions on prejudicial question, forum
Social Security System. On the contrary, the cases filed by Dr. Climaco before the NLRC
shopping, and litis pendentia. [41]
involved different issues. In his first complaint, Dr. Climaco sought recognition as a regular
employee of the company and demanded payment of his 13th month pay, cost of living
allowance, holiday pay, service incentive leave pay, Christmas bonus and all other
[42] [43]
benefits. The second complaint was for illegal dismissal, with prayer for reinstatement to his
No prejudicial question exists. former position as company physician of the companys Bacolod Plant, without loss of seniority
rights, with full payment of backwages, other unpaid benefits, and for payment of
[44]
damages. Thus, the issues in the NLRC cases are not determinative of whether or not the
SSC should proceed. It is settled that the question claimed to be prejudicial in nature must be
[45]
determinative of the case before the court.
Petitioners allege that Dr. Climaco previously filed separate complaints before the NLRC seeking
recognition as a regular employee. Necessarily then, a just resolution of these cases hinge on a
[35]
determination of whether or not Dr. Climaco is an employee of the company. The issue of
whether Dr. Climaco is entitled to employee benefits, as prayed for in the NLRC cases, is closely
intertwined with the issue of whether Dr. Climaco is an employee of the company who is subject There is no forum shopping.
to compulsory coverage under the SSSLaw. Hence, they argue, said regularization/illegal
dismissal case is a prejudicial question.

Anent the second issue, petitioners posit that since the issues before the NLRC and the SSC are
the same, the SSC cannot make a ruling on the issue presented before it without necessarily
The argument is untenable. having a direct effect on the issue before the NLRC. It was patently erroneous, if not malicious,
[46]
for Dr. Climaco to invoke the jurisdiction of the SSC through a separate petition. Thus, aquilianaor culpa criminal each remedy being available independently of the others although he
petitioners contend, Dr. Climaco was guilty of forum shopping. cannot recover more than once.

Again, We turn down the contention. In either of these situations (choice of venue or choice of remedy), the litigant actually shops for
a forum of his action. This was the original concept of the term forum shopping.

Forum shopping is a prohibited malpractice and condemned as trifling with the courts and their
[47]
processes. It is proscribed because it unnecessarily burdens the courts with heavy Eventually, however, instead of actually making a choice of the forum of their actions, litigants,
caseloads. It also unduly taxes the manpower and financial resources of the judiciary. It mocks through the encouragement of their lawyers, file their actions in all available courts, or invoke all
[48]
the judicial processes, thus, affecting the efficient administration of justice. relevant remedies simultaneously. This practice had not only resulted to (sic) conflicting
adjudications among different courts and consequent confusion enimical (sic) to an orderly
administration of justice. It had created extreme inconvenience to some of the parties to the
action.
The grave evil sought to be avoided by the rule against forum shopping is the rendition by two
(2) competent tribunals of two (2) separate and contradictory decisions. Unscrupulous litigants,
taking advantage of a variety of competent tribunals, may repeatedly try their luck in several
[49]
different fora until a favorable result is reached. Thus, forum-shopping had acquired a different concept which is unethical professional legal
practice. And this necessitated or had given rise to the formulation of rules and canons
discouraging or altogether prohibiting the practice.

It is well to note that forum shopping traces its origin in private international law on choice of
venues, which later developed to a choice of remedies. In First Philippine International Bank v.
[50]
Court of Appeals, the Court had occasion to outline the origin of the rule on forum What therefore started both in conflicts of laws and in our domestic law as a legitimate device for
shopping. Said the Court: solving problems has been abused and misused to assure scheming litigants of dubious
[51]
reliefs.

x x x forum shopping originated as a concept in private international law, where non-resident


litigants are given the option to choose the forum or place wherein to bring their suit for various Thus, in order to prevent forum shopping, the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure now provide:
reasons or excuses, including to secure procedural advantages, to annoy and harass the
defendant, to avoid overcrowded dockets, or to select a more friendly venue. To combat these
less than honorable excuses, the principle of forum non conveniens was developed whereby a
court, in conflicts of law cases, may refuse impositions on its jurisdiction where it is not the most
convenient or available forum and the parties are not precluded from seeking remedies SEC. 5. Certification against forum shopping. The plaintiff or principal party shall certify under
elsewhere. oath in the complaint or other initiatory pleading asserting a claim for relief, or in a sworn
certification annexed thereto and simultaneously filed therewith: (a) that he has not theretofore
commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or
quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending
therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, a complete statement of the present
xxxx status thereof; and (c) if he should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has
been filed or is pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court
[52]
wherein his aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed.

In the Philippines, forum shopping has acquired a connotation encompassing not only a choice
of venues, as it was originally understood in conflicts of laws, but also to a choice of
remedies. As to the first (choice of venues), the Rules of Court, for example, allow a plaintiff to Forum shopping is not only strictly prohibited but also condemned. So much so that [f]ailure to
commence personal actions where the defendant or any of the defendants resides or may be comply with the foregoing requirements shall not be curable by mere amendment of the initiatory
found, or where the plaintiff or any of the plaintiffs resides, at the election of the plaintiff (Rule 4, pleading but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without prejudice. The submission of a
Sec. 2[b]). As to remedies, aggrieved parties, for example, are given a choice of pursuing civil false certification or non-compliance with any of the undertakings therein shall constitute indirect
liabilities independently of the criminal, arising from the same set of facts. A passenger of a contempt of court, without prejudice to the corresponding administrative and criminal actions. If
public utility vehicle involved in a vehicular accident may sue on culpa contractual, culpa the acts of the party or his counsel clearly constitute willful and deliberate forum shopping, the
same shall be ground for summary dismissal with prejudice and shall constitute direct contempt As the SSC and the CA correctly observed, different laws are applicable to the cases before the
[53]
as well as a cause for administrative sanctions. two tribunals. The Labor Code and pertinent social legislations would govern the cases before
the NLRC, while the Social Security Law would govern the case before the SSC. Clearly, as the
issues pending before the NLRC and the SSC are diverse, a ruling on the NLRC cases would
not amount to res judicata in the case before the SSC.

There is forum shopping when one party repetitively avails of several judicial remedies in
different courts, simultaneously or successively, all substantially founded on the same The elements of litis pendentia are absent.
transactions and the same essential facts and circumstances, and all raising substantially the
[54]
same issues either pending in, or already resolved adversely, by some other court. In Lastly, petitioners contend that the petition of Dr. Climaco before the SSC is defective because
short, forum shopping exists where the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a there were pending actions between the same parties and involving the same issues in different
[55] [58]
final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in the other. fora.

There is res judicata when (1) there is a final judgment or order; (2) the court rendering it For litis pendentia to exist, there must be (1) identity of the parties or at least such as
has jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (3) the judgment or order is on representing the same interests in both actions; (2) identity of the rights asserted and
the merits; and (4) there is between the two cases identity of parties, subject matter and relief prayed for, the relief founded on the same facts; and (3) identity of the two cases
[56]
causes of action. such that judgment in one, regardless of which party is successful, would amount to res
[59]
judicata in the other.

Measured by the foregoing yardstick, Dr. Climaco is not guilty of forum shopping. While it is true
that the parties are identical in the NLRC and in the SSC, the reliefssought and the causes of In the case under review, there is no litis pendentia to speak of. As previously explained,
action are different. although the parties in the cases before the NLRC and the SSC are similar, the nature of the
cases filed, the rights asserted, and reliefs prayed for in each tribunal, are different.

Admittedly, Dr. Climacos basis in filing the cases before the NLRC and the SSC is his Retainer
Agreement with the company. This does not mean, however, that his causes of action are the As a last attempt, however, petitioners invoke Rule 16, Section 1(e) of the 1997 Rules of Civil
same: Procedure. Petitioners contend that the petition Dr. Climaco lodged with the SSC is another
[60]
action prohibited by the Rule.

x x x Some authorities declare the distinction between demands or rights of action which are
[61]
single and entire and those which are several and distinct to be that the former arise out of one In Solancio v. Ramos, the issue centered on whether the pending administrative case before
and the same act or contract and the latter out of different acts or contracts. This rule has the Bureau of Lands is another action, which would justify the dismissal of the complaint of
been declared to be unsound, however, and as evidence of its unsoundness, reference has plaintiff against defendants before the then Court of First Instance (now RTC) of
been made to the fact that several promissory notes may, and often do, grow out of one and the Cagayan. Ruling in the negative, the Court noted that both parties as well as the trial court have
same transaction, and yet they do not constitute an entire demand. The better rule is that the missed the extent or meaning of the ground of the motion to dismiss as contemplated under the
[62]
bare fact that different demands spring out of the same or contract does not ipso facto render a Rules of Court. Mr. Justice Regala, who wrote the opinion of the Court, explained the phrase
judgment on one a bar to a suit on another, however distinct. It is clear that the right of a plaintiff another action in this wise:
to maintain separate actions cannot be determined by the fact that the claims might have been
prosecuted in a single action. A plaintiff having separate demands against a defendant may, at
his election, join them in the same action, or he may prosecute them separately, subject of the
power of the court to order their consolidation. There may be only one cause of action although
the plaintiff is entitled to several forms and kinds of relief, provided there is not more than one This is not what is contemplated under the law because under Section 1(d), Rule 16 (formerly
primary right sought to be enforced or one subject of controversy presented for Rule 8) of the Rules of Court, [now Rule 1, Section 16(e) of the Rules of Court, supra] one of the
[57]
adjudication. (Underscoring supplied) grounds for the dismissal of an action is that there is another action pending between the same
parties for the same cause. Note that the Rule uses the phrase another action. This phrase
should be construed in line with Section 1 of Rule 2, which defines the word action, thus
Action means an ordinary suit in a court of justice, by which one party prosecutes another for the
enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention or redress of a wrong. Every other remedy
[63]
is a special proceeding.

Evidently, there is no another action pending between petitioners and Dr. Climaco at the time
when the latter filed a petition before the SSC.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the appealed decision AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.
SPS. CAROLINA and REYNALDO G.R. No. 176795 respondents were forced to accept because they allegedly had no other option left. It then
became a practice that petitioners would give the loaned money to Purita and the latter would
JOSE, deposit the same in her and her husbands account to cover the maturing postdated checks they
had previously issued in payment of their other loans. Purita would then issue checks in favor of
petitioners in payment of the amount borrowed from them with the agreed 5% daily interest.
Petitioners, Present:

[3]
On 7 May 2004, respondents filed a Complaint against petitioners seeking the declaration of
QUISUMBING, J., [4]
nullity of interest of 5% per day, fixing of interest, recovery of interest payments and the
issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, alleging that the interest rate of 5% a day is
Chairperson, iniquitous, contrary to morals, done under vitiated consent and imposed using undue influence
by taking improper advantage of their financial distress. They claimed that due to serious
CARPIO MORALES, liquidity problems, they were forced to rely on borrowings from banks and individual lenders,
including petitioners, and that they had to scramble for funds to cover the maturing postdated
checks they issued to cover their other borrowings. In their prayer, respondents stated:
- versus - TINGA,

WHEREFORE, it is prayed that upon the filing of the instant case and in accordance with the
VELASCO, JR., and
1997 Rules on Civil Procedure[,] a writ of preliminary injunction or at least a temporary
restraining order be issued restraining defendant from enforcing the checks as listed in Annex E
BRION, JJ. including the filing of criminal cases for violation of B.P. [Blg.] 22 and restraining defendants from
entering plaintiffs store and premises to get cash sales and other items against plaintiffs will [sic]
[5]
SPS. LAUREANO and PURITA under such terms and conditions as this Court may affix.

SUAREZ, Promulgated:

[6]
Respondents. Thereafter, at the instance of Carolina, several cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 were filed
against respondent Purita before the MTCC of Cebu City, Branches 2 and 5. Purita, in turn filed
June 30, 2008 motions to suspend the criminal proceedings on the ground of prejudicial question, on the theory
that the checks subject of the B.P. Blg. 22 cases are void for beingcontra bonos mores or for
having been issued in payment of the iniquitous and unconscionable interest imposed by
[7]
petitioners. The motions were denied.
DECISION

TINGA, J.:

Respondents thereafter filed before the RTC a Motion for Writ of Preliminary Injunction with
[8]
Temporary Restraining Order seeking to restrain the MTCCs from further proceeding with the
[1]
Petitioners filed this case assailing the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB SP B.P. Blg. 22 cases on the ground of prejudicial question. Petitioners opposed the motion.
[2] [9]
No. 00397 dated 17 August 2006 which affirmed the Orders of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Nevertheless, the RTC through its 20 December 2004 Order issued a writ of preliminary
of Cebu City, Branch 19 restraining Branches 2 and 5 of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities injunction, thereby enjoining the MTCCs from proceeding with the cases against
(MTCC) of Cebu City from proceeding with the criminal cases for violation of Batas Pambansa Purita. Petitioners sought reconsideration of the order but their motion was denied due course in
[10]
Bilang 22 (B.P. Blg. 22) filed against respondent Purita Suarez. the RTCs 3 February 2005 Order.

[11]
The facts of the case follow. Petitioners elevated the case to the Court of Appeals and questioned the propriety of the
RTCs issuance of a preliminary injunction based on a prejudicial question. The appellate court
stated that respondents had sought to annul the checks for being void pursuant to Article 1422
of the Civil Code which provides that a contract which is the direct result of a previous illegal
contract, is also void and inexistent. Accordingly, the appellate court concluded that if the checks
Respondents, spouses Laureano and Purita Suarez, had availed of petitioner Carolina Joses subject of the criminal cases were later on declared null and void, then said checks could not be
(Carolina) offer to lend money at the daily interest rate of 1% to 2%. However, Carolina and her made the bases of criminal prosecutions under B.P. Blg. 22. In other words, the outcome of the
husband, petitioner Reynaldo Jose, later on increased the interest to 5% per day, which
determination of the validity of the said checks is determinative of guilt or innocence of Purita in
[12]
the criminal case.

Respondents maintain that they are not guilty of forum shopping because after the denial by
the MTCCs of their motion to suspend proceedings, their only available remedy was the filing of
an application for preliminary injunction in the existing civil case filed earlier than the B.P. Blg. 22
The appellate court also observed that respondents resort to an application for preliminary cases. In any case, respondents argue that the rule on forum shopping is not intended to deprive
[22]
injunction could not be considered as forum shopping since it is the only remedy available to a party to a case of a legitimate remedy. Finally, they claim that the case falls under the
them considering the express proscription of filing a petition for certiorari against interlocutory exceptions to the rule that the prosecution of criminal cases may not be enjoined by a writ of
orders issued in cases under B.P. Blg. 22 which are governed by the rules on summary injunction, considering that in this case there is a prejudicial question which is sub judice, and
[23]
procedure.
[13] that there is persecution rather than prosecution.

Before us, petitioners submit that because under Section 6, Rule 111 of the Rules on Criminal The case hinges on the determination of whether there exists a prejudicial question which
Procedure a petition to suspend proceedings on the ground of prejudicial question should be necessitates the suspension of the proceedings in the MTCCs.
filed in the same criminal action, the RTC has no jurisdiction to issue the writ of preliminary
injunction as it is not the court where the B.P. Blg. 22 cases were filed. Moreover, they argue
that respondents are guilty of forum shopping because after the denial of their motion to
suspend the proceedings before Branches 2 and 5 of the MTCC, they resorted to the filing of a
motion for preliminary injunction before the RTC also on the ground of prejudicial question;
therefore, they succeeded in getting the relief in one forum (RTC) which they had failed to obtain
in the first forum (MTCCs). Likewise, petitioners claim that the Court of Appeals erred in holding
that the civil case poses a prejudicial question to the B.P. Blg. 22 cases, thus resulting in the
erroneous suspension of the proceedings the latter cases. Finally, petitioners posit that the RTC
erred in issuing the preliminary injunction because respondents have no clear and unmistakable
[14]
right to its issuance. We find that there is none and thus we resolve to grant the petition.

Respondents, for their part, state that the possibility of a ruling in the civil case to the effect that A prejudicial question generally comes into play in a situation where a civil action and a criminal
the subject checks are contra bonos mores and hence null and void constitutes a prejudicial action are both pending and there exists in the former an issue which must be preemptively
question in the B.P. Blg. 22 cases. Thus, proceeding with the trial in the criminal cases without resolved before the latter may proceed, because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is
[15]
awaiting the outcome of the civil case is fraught with mischievous consequences. They cite resolved would be determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the
[16]
the case of Medel v. Court of Appeals, wherein the Court nullified the interest rate of 5.5% per criminal case. The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting
month for being contra bonos mores under Article 1306 of the Civil Code, and recomputed the decisions. It has two essential elements: (i) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately
[17]
interest due at the rate of 1% per month. Thus, if their loans are computed at 1% per month, it related to the issue raised in the criminal action; and (ii) the resolution of such issue determines
would mean that the checks subject of the B.P. Blg. 22 cases are not only fully paid but are also whether or not the criminal action may proceed.
[24]
[18]
in fact overpaid. They also invoke the case of Danao v. Court of Appeals wherein the Court
allegedly ruled that there is no violation of B.P. Blg. 22 if the dishonored checks have been
[19]
paid. They claim that since the 5% interest per day was not contained in any written
[20]
agreement, per Article 1956 of the Civil Code, petitioners are bound to return the total interest
they collected from respondents. Respondents point out that they incorporated in their complaint Now the prejudicial question posed by respondents is simply this: whether the daily interest rate
an application for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order to restrain Carolina from of 5% is void, such that the checks issued by respondents to cover said interest are likewise void
enforcing the interest and from filing criminal cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 22. Quoting the for being contra bonos mores, and thus the cases for B.P. Blg. 22 will no longer prosper.
RTC, respondents explain:

The prejudicial question theory advanced by respondents must fail.


Since there was no proof at that time that plaintiff sustain or are about to sustain damages or
prejudice if the acts complained of are not enjoined, the application was not acted upon by the
Court. When the attention of the Court was invited by the plaintiffs of the refusal of the MTC,
Branches 2 and 5, to suspend the criminal proceedings despite being appraised of the pendency
[21]
of this case, the Court has to act accordingly.
denial of the motion is that the cases can very well proceed for the prosecution of the accused in
order to determine her criminal propensity as a consequence of the issuance of several checks
which subsequently bounced for what the law punishes is the issuance and/or drawing of a
check and upon presentment for deposit or encashment, it was dishonored due to insufficient
[29]
funds [or] account closed.
In the first place, the validity or invalidity of the interest rate is not determinative of the guilt of
respondents in the criminal cases. The Court has consistently declared that the cause or reason
for the

issuance of a check is inconsequential in determining criminal culpability under B.P. Blg. There being no prejudicial question, the RTC and, consequently, the Court of Appeals gravely
[25]
22. In several instances, we have held that what the law punishes is the issuance of a erred when they allowed the suspension of the proceedings in the B.P. Blg. 22 cases.
bouncing check and not the purpose for which it was issued or the terms and conditions relating
to its issuance; and that the mere act of issuing a worthless check is malum prohibitum provided
[26]
the other elements of the offense are properly proved.
Now, on to other matters.

The nature and policy of B.P. Blg. 22 were aptly enunciated by the Court in Meriz v.
[27]
People, when it stated: We find that respondents are guilty of forum shopping. There is forum shopping when a party
seeks to obtain remedies in an action in one court, which had already been solicited, and in
other courts and other proceedings in other tribunals. Forum shopping is the act of one party
against another, when an adverse judgment has been rendered in one forum, of seeking
x x x. [B.P. Blg.] 22 does not appear to concern itself with what might actually be envisioned by another and possibly favorable opinion in another forum other than by appeal or by special civil
the parties, its primordial intention being to instead ensure the stability and commercial value of action of certiorari; or the institution of two or more acts or proceedings grounded on the same
[30]
checks as being virtual substitutes for currency. It is a policy that can easily be eroded if one has cause on the supposition that one or the other court would make a favorable disposition.
yet to determine the reason for which checks are issued, or the terms and conditions for their
issuance, before an appropriate application of the legislative enactment can be made. The Respondents filed their motions to suspend proceedings in the MTCCs hearing the B.P. Blg. 22
gravamen of the offense under [B.P. Blg.] 22 is the act of making or issuing a worthless check or cases but unfortunately, the same were denied. Failing to get the relief they wanted,
a check that is dishonored upon presentment for payment. The act effectively declares the respondents sought before the RTC, the suspension of the criminal proceedings which was
offense to be one of malum prohibitum. The only valid query then is whether the law has been granted. Respondents tried to extricate themselves from the charge of forum shopping by
breached, explaining that after the denial of their motions to suspend, their only remedy was the application
for preliminary injunction in the civil casea relief which they had already asked for in their
complaint and which was also initially not granted to them. Any which way the situation is
viewed, respondents acts constituted forum shopping since they sought a possibly favorable
opinion from one court after another had issued an order unfavorable to them.

i.e., by the mere act of issuing a bad check, without so much regard as to the criminal intent of [31] [32]
the issuer.
[28] The Court notes that three cases, namely, Ras v. Rasul, Medel v. CA and Danao v. Court of
[33]
Appeals finding no application to the instant casewere mentioned by the RTC, the Court of
Appeals and by respondents themselves in support of their position.

Ras v. Rasul cropped up in the order of the RTC which was quoted with approval by the Court of
Thus, whether or not the interest rate imposed by petitioners is eventually declared void for Appeals. According to the RTC, the ruling in the said case allegedly can be squarely applied in
being contra bonos mores will not affect the outcome of the B.P. Blg. 22 cases because what will this case which nullified and set aside the conviction in a criminal case because of a prejudicial
ultimately be penalized is the mere issuance of bouncing checks. In fact, the primordial question [34]
question. We do not agree. The Ras case involves a petition for nullification of a deed of sale
posed before the court hearing the B.P. Blg. 22 cases is whether the law has been breached, on the ground of forgery. While the civil case was pending, an information for estafa was filed
that is, if a bouncing check has been issued. against the respondent in the civil case. The Court ruled that there were prejudicial questions
considering that the defense against the charge of forgery in the civil case is based on the very
same facts which would be determinative of the guilt or innocence of the respondent in
the estafa case. The instant case is different from Ras inasmuch as the determination of whether
The issue has in fact been correctly addressed by the MTCCs when respondents motion to the 5% daily interest is contra bonos mores and therefore void, or that the total amount loaned
suspend the criminal proceedings was denied upon the finding that there exists no prejudicial from petitioners has been sufficiently paid, will not affect the guilt or innocence of Purita because
question which could be the basis for the suspension of the proceedings. The reason for the
the material question in the B.P. Blg. 22 cases is whether Purita had issued a bad check,
regardless of the purpose or condition of its issuance.

Medel v. CA is the case upon which respondents anchor their claim that the interest due on their
loans is only 1% per month and thus they have already overpaid their obligation to
petitioners. In Medel, the Court declared that the rate of 5.5% interest per month on
a P500,000.00 loan is iniquitous, unconscionable and hence contrary to morals, and must
equitably be reduced to 12% per annum. While the Medel case made a finding that the
stipulated interest rate is excessive and thus may be equitably reduced by the courts, we do not
see how a reduction of the interest rate, should there be any, or a subsequent declaration that
the amount due has been fully paid, will have an effect on the determination of whether or
not Purita had in fact issued bouncing checks.

Meanwhile, respondents misunderstood our ruling in Danao v. Court of Appeals, which they
claim to have ruled that there could be no violation of B.P. Blg. 22 if the dishonored checks have
been paid. In Danao, the accused was convicted by the trial court for having issued two checks
which eventually bounced. The Court found that there was no proof of receipt by the accused of
any notice of nonpayment of the checks, and thus there was no way of determining when the
five-day period prescribed in Section 2 of B.P. Blg. 22 would start and end. Thus, the
presumption or prima facie evidence of knowledge of the insufficiency of funds or credit at the
time of the issuance of the checks did not arise.While there was a finding that the accused had
[35]
already paid her obligations prior to receipt of the complainants demand letter, there was no
declaration from the Court that such payment exonerated accused from liability for having issued
bouncing checks. Instead, accused was acquitted due to insufficiency of evidence, and not
[36]
because she had paid the amount covered by the dishonored checks or that the obligation
was deemed paid.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The impugned Decision of the Court of Appeals
dated 17 August 2006 and its Resolution dated 27 February 2007, in CA-G.R. CEB-SP No.
00397, are SET ASIDE. The preliminary injunction issued by
the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 19 in its Order dated 20 December 2004 in Civil
Case No. CEB-30278 enjoining the proceedings in the criminal cases for violation of B.P. Blg.
22 is LIFTED AND SET ASIDE and the MTCC of Cebu City, Branches 2 and 5 are ORDERED
to proceed with dispatch with the arraignment and trial in the B.P. Blg. 22 cases pending before
them.

SO ORDERED.
SY TIONG SHIOU, JUANITA TAN G.R. No. 174168 On 30 May 2003, four criminal complaints were filed by Sy Chim and Felicidad Chan Sy
(Spouses Sy) against Sy Tiong Shiou, Juanita Tan Sy, Jolie Ross Tan, Romer Tan, Charlie Tan
SY, JOLIE ROSS TAN, ROMER and Jessie James Tan (Sy Tiong Shiou, et al.) before the City Prosecutors Office of Manila. The
cases were later consolidated. Two of the complaints, I.S. Nos. 03E-15285 and 03E-
[3]
15286, were for alleged violation of Section 74 in relation to Section 144 of the Corporation
TAN, CHARLIE TAN, and JESSIE Present: Code. In these complaints, the Spouses Sy averred that they are stockholders and directors of
Sy Siy Ho & Sons, Inc. (the corporation) who asked Sy Tiong Shiou, et al., officers of the
JAMES TAN, corporation, to allow them to inspect the books and records of the business on three occasions
[4]
to no avail. In a letter dated 21 May 2003, Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. denied the request, citing civil
[5]
Petitioners, QUISUMBING, J., and intra-corporate cases pending in court.

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

SY CHIM and FELICIDAD CHAN Promulgated: Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. argued before the prosecutor that the issues involved in the civil case for
accounting and damages pending before the RTC of Manila were intimately related to the two
SY, criminal complaints filed by the Spouses Sy against them, and thus constituted a prejudicial
question that should require the suspension of the criminal complaints. They also argued that
the Spouses Sys request for inspection was premature as the latters concern may be properly
Respondents. March 30, 2009
addressed once an answer is filed in the civil case.Sy Tiong Shiou, on the other hand, denied
the accusations against him, alleging that before the 2003 GIS was submitted to the Securities
DECISION and Exchange Commission (SEC), the same was shown to respondents, who at that time were
the President/Chairman of the Board and Assistant Treasurer of the corporation, and that they
did not object to the entries in the GIS. Sy Tiong Shiou also argued that the issues raised in the
pending civil case for accounting presented a prejudicial question that necessitated the
TINGA, J.: suspension of criminal proceedings.

On 29 December 2003, the investigating prosecutor issued a resolution recommending the


suspension of the criminal complaints for violation of the Corporation Code and the dismiss al of
[8]
the criminal complaints for falsification and perjury against Sy Tiong Shiou. The reviewing
These consolidated petitions involving the same parties. although related, dwell on different prosecutor approved the resolution. The Spouses Sy moved for the reconsideration of the
issues. [9]
resolution, but their motion was denied on 14 June 2004. The Spouses Sy thereupon filed a
petition for review with the Department of Justice (DOJ),which the latter denied in a resolution
[10]
issued on 02 September 2004. Their subsequent motion for reconsideration was likewise
[11]
denied in the resolution of 20 July 2005.
G.R. No. 174168.

The Spouses Sy elevated the DOJs resolutions to the Court of Appeals through a petition for
[1]
This is a petition for review assailing the decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals certiorari, imputing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the DOJ. The appellate court granted
[12]
dated 31 May 2006 and 8 August 2006, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. 91416.
[2] the petition and directed the City Prosecutors Office to file the appropriate
informations against Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. for violation of Section 74, in relation to Section 144
of the Corporation Code and of Articles 172 and 183 of the RPC. The appellate court ruled that
the civil case for accounting and damages cannot be deemed prejudicial to the maintenance or
prosecution of a criminal action for violation of Section 74 in relation to Section 144 of the
Corporation Code since a finding in the civil case that respondents mishandled or
misappropriated the funds would not be determinative of their guilt or innocence in the criminal
complaint. In the same manner, the criminal complaints for falsification and/or perjury should not
have been dismissed on the ground of prejudicial question because the accounting case is
unrelated and not necessarily determinative of the success or failure of the falsification or perjury
charges. Furthermore, the Court of Appeals held that there was probable cause that Sy Tiong
Shiou had committed falsification and that the City of Manila where the 2003 GIS was executed As in every rule, however, there are settled exceptions. Hence, the principle of non-interference
is the proper venue for the institution of the perjury charges. Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. sought does not apply when there is grave abuse of discretion which would authorize the aggrieved
reconsideration of the Court of Appeals decision but their motion was denied.
[13] person to file a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65, 1997 Rules of Civil
[23]
Procedure.
On 2 April 2008, the Court ordered the consolidation of G.R. No. 179438 with G.R. No.
[14]
174168.

As correctly found by the Court of Appeals, the DOJ gravely abused its discretion when it
suspended the hearing of the charges for violation of the Corporation Code on the ground of
prejudicial question and when it dismissed the criminal complaints.
Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. argue that findings of the DOJ in affirming, modifying or reversing the
recommendations of the public prosecutor cannot be the subject of certiorari or review of the
Court of Appeals because the DOJ is not a quasi-judicial body within the purview of Section 1,
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. Petitioners rely on the separate opinion of former Chief Justice
[15]
Andres R. Narvasa in Roberts, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, wherein he wrote that this Court should A prejudicial question comes into play generally in a situation where a civil action and a criminal
not be called upon to determine the existence of probable cause, as there is no provision of law action are both pending and there exists in the former an issue which must be preemptively
[16]
authorizing an aggrieved party to petition for such a determination. In any event, they argue, resolved before the criminal action may proceed since howsoever the issue raised in the civil
assuming without admitting that the findings of the DOJ may be subject to judicial review under action is resolved would be determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused
Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, the DOJ has not committed any grave abuse of in the criminal case. The reason behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid two
discretion in affirming the findings of the City Prosecutor of Manila. They claim that the Spouses conflicting decisions. It has two essential elements: (a) the civil action involves an issue similar
Sys request for inspection was not made in good faith and that their motives were tainted with or intimately related to the issue raised in the criminal action; and (b) the resolution of such issue
[24]
the intention to harass and to intimidate Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. from pursuing the criminal and determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.
civil cases pending before the prosecutors office and the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Manila, Branch 46. Thus, to accede to the Spouses Sys request would pose serious threats to
[17]
the existence of the corporation. Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. aver that the RTC had already denied
the motion for production and inspection and instead ordered petitioners to make the corporate
records available to the appointed independent auditor.Hence, the DOJ did not commit any
grave abuse of discretion in affirming the recommendation of the City Prosecutor of
[18]
Manila. They further argue that adherence to the Court of Appeals ruling that the accounting
case is unrelated to, and not necessarily determinative of the success of, the criminal complaint
for falsification and/or perjury would unnecessarily indict petitioner Sy Tiong Shiou for the said
offenses he may not have committed but only because of an outcome unfavorable to him in the
[19]
civil action.
The civil action and the criminal cases do not involve any prejudicial question.

Indeed, a preliminary proceeding is not a quasi-judicial function and that the DOJ is not a quasi- The civil action for accounting and damages, Civil Case No. 03-106456 pending before the RTC
judicial agency exercising a quasi-judicial function when it reviews the findings of a public
[20] Manila, Branch 46, seeks the issuance of an order compelling the Spouses Sy to render a full,
prosecutor regarding the presence of probable cause. Moreover, it is settled that the
complete and true accounting of all the amounts, proceeds and fund paid to, received and
preliminary investigation proper, i.e., the determination of whether there is reasonable ground to
earned by the corporation since 1993 and to restitute it such amounts, proceeds and funds
believe that the accused is guilty of the offense charged and should be subjected to the
[21] which the Spouses Sy have misappropriated. The criminal cases, on the other hand, charge that
expense, rigors and embarrassment of trial, is the function of the prosecution. This Court has
the Spouses Sy were illegally prevented from getting inside company premises and from
adopted a policy of non-interference in the conduct of preliminary investigations and leaves to inspecting company records, and that Sy Tiong Shiou falsified the entries in the GIS, specifically
the investigating prosecutor sufficient latitude of discretion in the determination of what
the Spouses Sys shares in the corporation. Surely, the civil case presents no prejudicial
constitutes sufficient evidence as will establish probable cause for the filing of information
[22] question to the criminal cases since a finding that the Spouses Sy mishandled the funds will
against the supposed offender. have no effect on the determination of guilt in the complaint for violation of Section 74 in relation
to Section 144 of the Corporation Code; the civil case concerns the validity of Sy Tiong Shious
refusal to allow inspection of the records, while in the falsification and perjury cases, what is
material is the veracity of the entries made by Sy Tiong Shiou in the sworn GIS.
Anent the issue of probable cause, the Court also finds that there is enough probable cause to Any officer or agent of the corporation who shall refuse to allow any director, trustee, stockholder
warrant the institution of the criminal cases. or member of the corporation to examine and copy excerpts from its records or minutes, in
accordance with the provisions of this Code, shall be liable to such director, trustee, stockholder
or member for damages, and in addition, shall be guilty of an offense which shall be punishable
under Section 144 of this Code: Provided, That if such refusal is made pursuant to a resolution
or order of the Board of Directors or Trustees, the liability under this section for such action shall
be imposed upon the directors or trustees who voted for such refusal: and Provided, further,
That it shall be a defense to any action under this section that the person demanding to examine
and copy excerpts from the corporation's records and minutes has improperly used any
information secured through any prior examination of the records or minutes of such corporation
The term probable cause does not mean actual and positive cause nor does it import absolute or of any other corporation, or was not acting in good faith or for a legitimate purpose in making
certainty. It is merely based on opinion and reasonable belief. Thus a finding of probable cause his demand.
does not require an inquiry into whether there is sufficient evidence to procure a conviction. It is
enough that it is believed that the act or omission complained of constitutes the offense
charged. Precisely, there is a trial for the reception of evidence of the prosecution in support of
[25]
the charge. Meanwhile, Section 144 of the same Code provides:

In order that probable cause to file a criminal case may be arrived at, or in order to engender the Sec. 144. Violations of the Code.Violations of any of the provisions of this Code or its
well-founded belief that a crime has been committed, the elements of the crime charged should amendments not otherwise specifically penalized therein shall be punished by a fine of not less
be present. This is based on the principle that every crime is defined by its elements, without than one thousand (P1,000.00) pesos but not more than ten thousand (P10,000.00) pesos or by
[26]
which there should beat the mostno criminal offense. imprisonment for not less than thirty (30) days but not more than five (5) years, or both, in the
discretion of the court. If the violation is committed by a corporation, the same may, after notice
and hearing, be dissolved in appropriate proceedings before the Securities and Exchange
Commission: Provided, That such dissolution shall not preclude the institution of appropriate
Section 74 of the Corporation Code reads in part: action against the director, trustee or officer of the corporation responsible for said
violation: Provided, further, That nothing in this section shall be construed to repeal the other
causes for dissolution of a corporation provided in this Code.

[27]
In the recent case of Ang-Abaya, et al. v. Ang, et al., the Court had the occasion to enumerate
xxx
the requisites before the penal provision under Section 144 of the Corporation Code may be
applied in a case of violation of a stockholder or members right to inspect the corporate
books/records as provided for under Section 74 of the Corporation Code. The elements of the
offense, as laid down in the case, are:
The records of all business transactions of the corporation and the minutes of any meeting shall
be open to inspection by any director, trustee, stockholder or member of the corporation at
reasonable hours on business days and he may demand, in writing, for a copy of excerpts from
said records or minutes, at his expense.
First. A director, trustee, stockholder or member has made a prior demand in writing for a copy
of excerpts from the corporations records or minutes;

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

Third. If such refusal is made pursuant to a resolution or order of the board of directors or
trustees, the liability under this section for such action shall be imposed upon the directors or
trustees who voted for such refusal; and,
[33]
Even in their Joint Counter-Affidavit dated 23 September 2003, Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. did not
make any allegation that the person demanding to examine and copy excerpts from the
Fourth. Where the officer or agent of the corporation sets up the defense that the person corporations records and minutes has improperly used any information secured through any
demanding to examine and copy excerpts from the corporations records and minutes has prior examination of the records or minutes of such corporation or of any other corporation, or
improperly used any information secured through any prior examination of the records or was not acting in good faith or for a legitimate purpose in making his demand. Instead, they
minutes of such corporation or of any other corporation, or was not acting in good faith or for a merely reiterated the pendency of the civil case. There being no allegation of improper motive,
legitimate purpose in making his demand, the contrary must be shown or proved.
[28] and it being undisputed that Sy Tiong Shiou, et al. denied Sy Chim and Felicidad Chan Sys
request for inspection, the Court rules and so holds that the DOJ erred in dismissing the criminal
charge for violation of Section 74 in relation to Section 144 of the Corporation Code.

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

Thus, in a criminal complaint for violation of Section 74 of the Corporation Code, the defense of
improper use or motive is in the nature of a justifying circumstance that would exonerate those
who raise and are able to prove the same. Accordingly, where the corporation denies inspection The Spouses Sy charge Sy Tiong Shiou with the offense of falsification of public documents
on the ground of improper motive or purpose, the burden of proof is taken from the shareholder under Article 171, paragraph 4; and/or perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code
[29]
and placed on the corporation. However, where no such improper motive or purpose is (RPC). The elements of falsification of public documents through an untruthful narration of facts
alleged, and even though so alleged, it is not proved by the corporation, then there is no valid are: (a) the offender makes in a document untruthful statements in a narration of facts; (b) the
[34]
reason to deny the requested inspection. offender has a legal obligation to disclose the truth of the facts narrated; (c) the facts narrated
by the offender are absolutely false; and (d) the perversion of truth in the narration of facts was
[35]
made with the wrongful intent to injure a third person. On the other hand, the elements of
perjury are: (a) that the accused made a statement under oath or executed an affidavit upon a
material matter; (b) that the statement or affidavit was made before a competent officer,
In the instant case, however, the Court finds that the denial of inspection was predicated on the authorized to receive and administer oath; (c) that in that statement or affidavit, the accused
pending civil case against the Spouses Sy. This is evident from the 21 May 2003 letter of Sy made a willful and deliberate assertion of a falsehood; and, (d) that the sworn statement or
[30] [31]
Tiong Shiou, et al.s counsel to the Spouses Sy, which reads: affidavit containing the falsity is required by law or made for a legal purpose.

Gentlemen: A General Information Sheet (GIS) is required to be filed within thirty (30) days following the date
of the annual or a special meeting, and must be certified and sworn to by the corporate
[36]
secretary, or by the president, or any duly authorized officer of the corporation. From the
records, the 2003 GIS submitted to the SEC on 8 April 2003 wasexecuted under oath by Sy
[37]
Tiong Shiou in Manila, in his capacity as Vice President and General Manager. By executing
We write in behalf of our clients, SY SIY HO, INC. ( Guan Yiac Hardware); SY TIONG SHIOU, [38]
the document under oath, he, in effect, attested to the veracity of its contents. The
JUANITA TAN SY; JOLIE ROSS TAN; CHARLIE TAN; ROMER TAN; and JESSE JAMES
Spouses Sy claim that the entries in the GIS pertaining to them do not reflect the true number of
TAN, relative to your letter dated 16 May 2003. Please be informed that a case for Accounting
shares that they own in the company. They attached to their complaint the 2002 GIS of the
and Damages had already been filed against your clients, Sy Chim and Felicidad Chan Sy
company, also executed by Sy Tiong Shiou, and compared the entries therein vis-a-vis the ones
before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 46, denominated as Civil Case No. 03-106456.
in the 2003 GIS. The Spouses Synoted the marked decrease in their shareholdings, averring
that at no time after the execution of the 2002 GIS, up to the time of the filing of their criminal
complaints did they execute or authorize the execution of any document or deed transferring,
conveying or disposing their shares or any portion thereof; and thus there is absolutely no
[39]
We fully understand your desire for our clients to respond to your demands, however, under the basis for the figures reflected in the 2003 GIS. The Spouses Sy claim that the false
prevailing circumstance this would not be advisable. The concerns that you raised in your letter statements were made by Sy Tiong Shiou with the wrongful intent of injuring them. All the
can later on be addressed after your clients shall have filed their responsive pleading in the elements of both offenses are sufficiently averred in the complaint-affidavits.
abovesaid case.

The Court agrees with the Court of Appeals holding, citing the case of Fabia v. Court of
[32]
We trust that this response will at the moment be enough. Appeals, that the doctrine of primary jurisdiction no longer precludes the simultaneous filing of
[40]
the criminal case with the corporate/civil case. Moreover, the Court finds that the City
of Manila is the proper venue for the perjury charges, the GIS having been subscribed and
sworn to in the said place. Under Section 10(a), Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court, the
criminal action shall be instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or territory where the
[41]
offense was committed or where any of its essential ingredients occurred. In Villanueva v.
[42]
Secretary of Justice, the Court held that the felony is consummated when the false statement
[43]
is made. Thus in this case, it was alleged that the perjury was committed when Sy Tiong
Shiou subscribed and sworn to the GIS in the City of Manila, thus, following Section 10(a), Rule
110 of the Revised Rules of Court, the City of Manila is the proper venue for the offense. Meanwhile, on 1 July 2003, the corporation, through Romer S. Tan, filed its Amended Complaint
[55]
for Accounting and Damages against the Spouses Sy before the RTC Manila, praying for a
complete and true accounting of all the amounts paid to, received and earned by the company
[56]
since 1993 and for the restitution of the said amount. The complaint also prayed for a
G. R. No. 179438. temporary restraining order (TRO) and or preliminary injunction to restrain Sy Chim from calling
a stockholders meeting on the ground of lack of authority.

[44] [45]
This petition assails the decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 26 May [57]
2004 and 29 August 2007, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. 81897. By way of Answer, the Spouses Sy averred that Sy Chim was a mere figurehead and
Felicidad Chan Sy merely performed clerical functions, as it was Sy Tiong Shiou and his
spouse, Juanita Tan, who have been authorized by the corporations by-laws to supervise,
control and administer corporate funds, and as such were the ones responsible for the
unaccounted funds. They assailed the meetings called by Sy Tiong Shiou on the grounds that
On 3 February 2003, Juanita Tan, corporate treasurer of Sy Siy Ho & Sons, Inc. (the the same were held without notice to them and without their participation, in violation of the by-
corporation), a family corporation doing business under the name and style Guan Yiac laws. The Spouses Sy also pursued their counter-claim for moral and exemplary damages and
[46]
Hardware, submitted a letter to the corporations Board of Directors (Board) stating that the attorneys fees.
control, supervision and administration of all corporate funds were exercised by Sy Chim and
Felicidad Chan Sy (Spouses Sy), corporate president and assistant treasurer, respectively. In
the same letter, Juanita Tan disclosed that Felicidad Chan Sy did not make cash deposits to any
of the corporations banks from 1 November 2001 to 31 January 2003, thus the total bank
remittances for the past years were less than reflected in the corporate financial statements, On 9 September 2003, the Spouses Sy filed their Motion for Leave to File Third-Party
[58] [59]
accounting books and records. Finally, Juanita Tan sought to be free from any responsibility Complaint, praying that their attached Third Party Complaint be allowed and admitted
against Sy Tiong Shiou and his spouse. In the said third-party complaint, the Spouses Sy
accused Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan as directly liable for the corporations claim for
misappropriating corporate funds.

On 8 October 2003, the trial court granted the motion for leave to file the third-party complaint,
over all corporate funds. The Board granted Juanita Tans request and authorized the and forthwith directed the issuance of summons against Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan. On
[60]
employment of an external auditor to render a complete 16 January 2004, their counsel allegedly discovered that Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan were
not furnished with the copies of several pleadings, as well as a court order, which resulted in
[47]
audit of all the corporate accounting books and records. Consequently, the Board hired the their having been declared in default for failure to file their answer to the third-party complaint;
[48]
accounting firm Banaria, Banaria & Company. In its Report dated 5 April 2003, the accounting thus, they opted not to file a motion for reconsideration anymore and instead filed a petition for
firm attributed to the Spouses Sy P67,117,230.30 as unaccounted receipts and disbursements certiorari before the Court of Appeals.
[49]
from 1994 to 2002.

In its Decision dated 26 May 2004, the Court of Appeals granted the petition of Sy Tiong Shiou
[50] [61]
A demand letter was subsequently served on the Spouses Sy on 15 April 2003. On the same and Juanita Tan. The appellate court declared that a third-party complaint is not allowed under
date, the children of the Spouses Sy allegedly stole from the corporation cash, postdated checks the Interim Rules of Procedure Governing Intra-Corporate Controversies Under R.A. No.
and other important documents. After the incident, the Spouses Sy allegedly transferred 8799 (Interim Rules), it not being included in the exclusive enumeration of allowed pleadings
residence and ceased reporting to the corporation. Thereupon, the corporation filed a criminal under Section 2, Rule 2 thereof. Moreover, even if such a pleading were allowed, the admission
[51]
complaint for robbery against the Spouses Sy before the City Prosecutors Office of Manila. A of the third-party complaint against Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan still would have no basis
[52] [62]
search warrant was subsequently issued by the Regional Trial Court. from the facts or the law and jurisprudence. The Court of Appeals also ruled that the
respondent judge committed a manifest error amounting to lack of jurisdiction in admitting the
third-party complaint and in summarily declaring Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan in default for
failure to file their answer within the purported reglementary period. The Court of Appeals set
aside the trial courts 8 October 2003 Order admitting the third-party complaint, as well as the 19
On 26 April 2003, Sy Tiong Shiou, corporate Vice President and General Manager, called a
December 2003 Order, declaring Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan in default for failure to file their
special meeting to be held on 6 May 2003 to fill up the positions vacated by the Spouses Sy. Sy
answer. The trial court was further ordered to dismiss the third-party complaint without prejudice
Tiong Shiou was subsequently elected as the new president and his wife, Juanita Tan, the new [63]
[53] to any action that the corporation may separately file against Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan.
Vice President. Despite these developments, Sy Chim still caused the issuance of a Notice of
[54]
Stockholders meeting dated 11 June 2003 in his capacity as the alleged corporate president.
There is a conflict, for while a third-party complaint is not included in the allowed pleadings,
neither is it among the prohibited ones. Nevertheless, this conflict may be resolved by following
The Spouses Sy filed a motion for reconsideration, but their motion was denied on 29 August the well-entrenched rule in statutory construction, that every part of the statute must be
2007.
[64] interpreted with reference to the context, i.e., that every part of the statute must be considered
together with the other parts, and kept subservient to the general intent of the whole
[66]
enactment. Statutes, including rules, should be construed in the light of the object to be
achieved and the evil or mischief to be suppressed and they should be given such construction
as will advance the object, suppress the mischief and secure the benefits intended. A statute
Sy Chim and Felicidad Chan Sy argue before this Court that a third-party complaint is not should therefore be read with reference to its leading idea, and its general purpose and intention
excluded or prohibited by the Interim Rules, and that the Court of Appeals erred inruling that should be gathered from the whole act, and this predominant purpose will prevail over the literal
their third- party complaint is not actionable because their action is not in respect of the import of particular terms or clauses, if plainly apparent, operating as a limitation upon some and
corporations claims. They add that the disallowance of the third-party complaint will result in as a reason for expanding the signification of others, so that the interpretation may accord with
multiplicity of suits. the spirit of the entire act, and so that the policy and object of the statute as a whole may be
[67]
made effectual and operative to the widest possible extent. Otherwise stated, the spirit, rather
than the letter of a law determines its construction; hence, a statute, as in the rules in this case,
[68]
must be read according to its spirit and intent.
The third-party complaint should be allowed.

This spirit and intent can be gleaned from Sec. 3, Rule 1 of the Interim Rules, which reads:
The conflicting provisions of the Interim Rules of Procedure for Inter-Corporate Controversies
read:

Rule 1, Sec. 8. Prohibited pleadings.The following pleadings are prohibited: Sec. 3. Construction.These Rules shall be liberally construed in order to promote their
objective of securing a just, summary, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action or
[69]
proceeding.
(1) Motion to dismiss;

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

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

It thus appears that the summary nature of the proceedings governed by the Interim Rules, and
the allowance of the filing of third-party complaints is premised on one objectivethe expeditious
disposition of cases. Moreover, following the rule of liberal interpretation found in the Interim
(5) Motion for postponement and other motions of similar intent, except those filed due to clearly Rules, and taking into consideration the suppletoryapplication of the Rules of Court under
compelling reasons. Such motion must be verified and under oath.

Rule 2, Sec.2. Pleadings allowed.The only pleadings allowed to be filed under these Rules are
the complaint, answer, compulsory counterclaims or cross-claims pleaded in the answer, and [71]
the answer to the counterclaims or cross-claims.
[65] Rule 1, Sec. 2 of the Interim Rules, the Court finds that a third-party complaint is not, and
should not be prohibited in controversies governed by the Interim Rules. The logic and justness
of this conclusion are rendered beyond question when it is considered that Sy Tiong Shiou and
Juanita Tan are not complete strangers to the litigation as in fact they are the moving
spirit behind the filing of the principal complaint for accounting and damages against the
Spouses Sy.
The allegations in the third-party complaint impute direct liability on the part of Sy Tiong Shiou
and Juanita Tan to the corporation for the very same claims which the corporation interposed
The Court also rules that the third-party complaint of the Spouses Sy should be admitted. against the Spouses Sy. It is clear therefore that the Spouses Sys third-party complaint is in
[75]
respect of the plaintiff corporations claims, and thus the allowance of the third-party complaint
is warranted.

A prerequisite to the exercise of such right is that some substantive basis for a third-party claim
be found to exist, whether the basis be one of indemnity, subrogation, contribution or other
substantive right. The bringing of a third-party defendant is proper if he would be liable to the
plaintiff or to the defendant or both for all or part of the plaintiffs claim against the original
defendant, although the third-party defendants liability arises out of another transaction. The WHEREFORE, these cases are resolved as follows:
defendant may implead another as third-party defendant: (a) on an allegation of liability of the
latter to the defendant for contribution, indemnity, subrogation or any other relief; (b) on the
ground of direct
G.R. No. 174168
liability of the third-party defendant to the plaintiff; or (c) the liability of the third-party defendant to
[72]
both the plaintiff and the defendant.
The petition for review is DENIED. The Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals
dated 31 May 2006 and 8 August 2006, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. 91416 are AFFIRMED.
In determining the sufficiency of the third-party complaint, the allegations in the original
complaint and the third-party complaint must be examined. A third-party complaint must allege
facts which prima facie show that the defendant is entitled to contribution, indemnity, subrogation Costs against the petitioners.
[73]
or other relief from the third-party defendant.

G.R. No. 179438


The complaint alleges that the Spouses Sy, as officers of the corporation, have acted illegally in
raiding its corporate funds, hence they are duty bound to render a full, complete and true
accounting of all the amounts, proceeds and funds paid to, received and earned by the
corporation since 1993 and to restitute to the corporation all such amounts, proceeds, and funds The petition is GRANTED. The decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals dated 26 May
which they took and misappropriated for their own use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice 2004 and 29 August 2007, respectively, in CA-G.R. SP No. 81897 are SET ASIDE and the
[74]
of the plaintiff and its stockholders. On the other hand, in the third-party complaint, the Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Manila Branch 46 dated 8 October 2003 and 19 December
Spouses Sy claim that it is Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan who had full and complete control of 2003 are REINSTATED.
the day-to day operations and complete control and custody of the funds of the corporation, and
hence they are the ones liable for any shortfall or unaccounted

SO ORDERED.

difference of the corporations cash account. Thus, Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan should
render a full, complete and true accounting of all the amounts, proceeds, funds paid to, received
and earned by the corporation since 1993, including the amount attributed to the Spouses Sy in
the complaint for accounting and damages. In their prayer, the Spouses Sy moved that Sy Tiong
Shiou and Juanita Tan be declared as directly and solely liable in respect of the corporations
claim for accounting and damages, and that in the event that they, the Spouses Sy, are
adjudged liable to the corporation, Sy Tiong Shiou and Juanita Tan be ordered to pay all
amounts necessary to discharge their liability to the corporation by way of indemnity or
reimbursement.
G.R. No. 175241

INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES represented by its National President, Jose The Court, by Resolutions of July 26, 2006, August 30, 2006 and November 20, 2006,
Anselmo I. Cadiz, H. HARRY L. ROQUE, and JOEL RUIZ BUTUYAN, respectively, denied the petition for being moot and academic, denied the relief that the petition
be heard on the merits in view of the pendency of CA-G.R. SP No. 94949, and denied the
Petitioners, motion for reconsideration.

- versus -

HONORABLE MANILA MAYOR JOSE LITO ATIENZA, The rally pushed through on June 22, 2006 at Mendiola Bridge, after Cadiz discussed with
P/Supt. Arturo Paglinawan whose contingent from the Manila Police District (MPD) earlier barred
petitioners from proceeding thereto. Petitioners allege that the participants voluntarily dispersed
Respondent. after the peaceful conduct of the program.

DECISION

[8]
The MPD thereupon instituted on June 26, 2006 a criminal action, docketed as I.S. No. 06I-
12501, against Cadiz for violating the Public Assembly Act in staging a rally at a venue not
indicated in the permit, to which charge Cadiz filed a Counter-Affidavit of August 3, 2006.

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

In the meantime, the appellate court ruled, in CA-G.R. SP No. 94949, by the first assailed
issuance, that the petition became moot and lacked merit. The appellate court also denied
[1] petitioners motion for reconsideration by the second assailed issuance.
Petitioners Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and lawyers H. Harry L. Roque and Joel R.
[2] [3]
Butuyan appeal the June 28, 2006 Decision and the October 26, 2006 Resolution of the
Court of Appeals that found no grave abuse of discretion on the part of respondent Jose Lito
Atienza, the then mayor of Manila, in granting a permit to rally in a venue other than the one
applied for by the IBP. Hence, the filing of the present petition for review on certiorari, to which respondent filed his
Comment of November 18, 2008 which merited petitioners Reply of October 2, 2009.

On June 15, 2006, the IBP, through its then National President Jose Anselmo Cadiz (Cadiz),
[4]
filed with the Office of the City Mayor of Manila a letter application for a permit to rally at the The main issue is whether the appellate court erred in holding that the modification of the venue
foot of Mendiola Bridge on June 22, 2006 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. to be participated in by in IBPs rally permit does not constitute grave abuse of discretion.
IBP officers and members, law students and multi-sectoral organizations.

[5] Petitioners assert that the partial grant of the application runs contrary to the Pubic Assembly Act
Respondent issued a permit dated June 16, 2006 allowing the IBP to stage a rally on given and violates their constitutional right to freedom of expression and public assembly.
date but indicated therein Plaza Miranda as the venue, instead of Mendiola Bridge, which permit
the IBP received on June 19, 2006.

Aggrieved, petitioners filed on June 21, 2006 before the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari
[6]
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 94949. The petition having been unresolved within 24 hours from
its filing, petitioners filed before this Court on June 22, 2006 a petition for certiorari docketed as
G.R. No. 172951 which assailed the appellate courts inaction or refusal to resolve the petition The Court shall first resolve the preliminary issue of mootness.
[7]
within the period provided under the Public Assembly Act of 1985.
Undoubtedly, the petition filed with the appellate court on June 21, 2006 became moot upon the
passing of the date of the rally on June 22, 2006.
Section 6 of the Public Assembly Act reads:

A moot and academic case is one that ceases to present a justiciable controversy by virtue of
supervening events, so that a declaration thereon would be of no practical use or Section 6. Action to be taken on the application -
value. Generally, courts decline jurisdiction over such case or dismiss it on ground of
mootness. However, even in cases where supervening events had made the cases moot, this
Court did not hesitate to resolve the legal or constitutional issues raised to formulate controlling
principles to guide the bench, bar and public. Moreover, as an exception to the rule on
mootness, courts will decide a question otherwise moot if it is capable of repetition, yet evading (a) It shall be the duty of the mayor or any official acting in his behalf to issue or grant a permit
[9]
review. unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the public assembly will create a clear and
present danger to public order, public safety, public convenience, public morals or public health.

In the present case, the question of the legality of a modification of a permit to rally will arise
each time the terms of an intended rally are altered by the concerned official, yet it evades (b) The mayor or any official acting in his behalf shall act on the application within two (2)
review, owing to the limited time in processing the application where the shortest allowable working days from the date the application was filed, failing which, the permit shall be deemed
period is five days prior to the assembly. The susceptibility of recurrence compels the Court to granted. Should for any reason the mayor or any official acting in his behalf refuse to accept the
definitively resolve the issue at hand. application for a permit, said application shall be posted by the applicant on the premises of the
office of the mayor and shall be deemed to have been filed.

Respecting petitioners argument that the issues presented in CA-G.R. SP No. 94949 pose a
prejudicial question to the criminal case against Cadiz, the Court finds it improper to resolve the (c) If the mayor is of the view that there is imminent and grave danger of a substantive evil
same in the present case. warranting the denial or modification of the permit, he shall immediately inform the applicant who
must be heard on the matter.

(d) The action on the permit shall be in writing and served on the application [sic] within twenty-
[10]
Under the Rules, the existence of a prejudicial question is a ground in a petition to suspend four hours.
proceedings in a criminal action. Since suspension of the proceedings in the criminal action may
be made only upon petition and not at the instance of the judge or the investigating
[11]
prosecutor, the latter cannot take cognizance of a claim of prejudicial question without a
petition to suspend being filed. Since a petition to suspend can be filed only in the criminal (e) If the mayor or any official acting in his behalf denies the application or modifies the terms
[12]
action, the determination of the pendency of a prejudicial question should be made at the first thereof in his permit, the applicant may contest the decision in an appropriate court of law.
instance in the criminal action, and not before this Court in an appeal from the civil action.

In proceeding to resolve the petition on the merits, the appellate court found no grave abuse of
discretion on the part of respondent because the Public Assembly Act does not categorically
(f) In case suit is brought before the Metropolitan Trial Court, the Municipal Trial Court, the
require respondent to specify in writing the imminent and grave danger of a substantive evil
Municipal Circuit Trial Court, the Regional Trial Court, or the Intermediate Appellate Court, its
which warrants the denial or modification of the permit and merely mandates that the action
decisions may be appealed to the appropriate court within forty-eight (48) hours after receipt of
taken shall be in writing and shall be served on respondent within 24 hours. The appellate court
the same. No appeal bond and record on appeal shall be required. A decision granting such
went on to hold that respondent is authorized to regulate the exercise of the freedom of
permit or modifying it in terms satisfactory to the applicant shall, be immediately executory.
expression and of public assembly which are not absolute, and that the challenged permit is
consistent with Plaza Mirandas designation as a freedom park where protest rallies are allowed
without permit.

(g) All cases filed in court under this Section shall be decided within twenty-four (24) hours from
date of filing. Cases filed hereunder shall be immediately endorsed to the executive judge for
disposition or, in his absence, to the next in rank.
The Court finds for petitioners.
(h) In all cases, any decision may be appealed to the Supreme Court. imminent and grave danger of a substantive evil that may warrant the changing of the
venue. The opportunity to be heard precedes the action on the permit, since the applicant may
directly go to court after an unfavorable action on the permit.

(i) Telegraphic appeals to be followed by formal appeals are hereby allowed. (underscoring
supplied)
Respondent failed to indicate how he had arrived at modifying the terms of the permit against
the standard of a clear and present danger test which, it bears repeating, is an indispensable
condition to such modification. Nothing in the issued permit adverts to an imminent and grave
danger of a substantive evil, which blank denial or modification would, when granted imprimatur
as the appellate court would have it, render illusory any judicial scrutiny thereof.
[13]
In Bayan, Karapatan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) v. Ermita, the Court reiterated:

x x x Freedom of assembly connotes the right of the people to meet peaceably for consultation It is true that the licensing official, here respondent Mayor, is not devoid of discretion in
and discussion of matters of public concern. It is entitled to be accorded the utmost deference determining whether or not a permit would be granted. It is not, however, unfettered discretion.
and respect. It is not to be limited, much less denied, except on a showing, as is the case While prudence requires that there be a realistic appraisal not of what may possibly occur but of
with freedom of expression, of a clear and present danger of a substantive evil that the what may probably occur, given all the relevant circumstances, still the assumption especially so
state has a right to prevent. Even prior to the 1935 Constitution, Justice Malcolm had occasion where the assembly is scheduled for a specific public place is that the permit must be for the
to stress that it is a necessary consequence of our republican institutions and complements the assembly being held there. The exercise of such a right, in the language of Justice Roberts,
right of free speech. To paraphrase the opinion of Justice Rutledge, speaking for the majority of speaking for the American Supreme Court, is not to be "abridged on the plea that it may
the American Supreme Court in Thomas v. Collins, it was not by accident or coincidence that the [17]
be exercised in some other place. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
rights to freedom of speech and of the press were coupled in a single guarantee with the rights
of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances.
All these rights, while not identical, are inseparable. In every case, therefore, where there is a
limitation placed on the exercise of this right, the judiciary is called upon to examine the effects
of the challenged governmental actuation. The sole justification for a limitation on the
exercise of this right, so fundamental to the maintenance of democratic institutions, is
the danger, of a character both grave and imminent, of a serious evil to public safety,
[14]
public morals, public health, or any other legitimate public interest. (emphasis supplied)
Notably, respondent failed to indicate in his Comment any basis or explanation for his action. It
smacks of whim and caprice for respondent to just impose a change of venue for an assembly
that was slated for a specific public place. It is thus reversible error for the appellate court not
to have found such grave abuse of discretion and, under specific statutory

The Court in Bayan stated that the provisions of the Public Assembly Act of 1985 practically
[15]
codified the 1983 ruling in Reyes v. Bagatsing. In juxtaposing Sections 4 to 6 of the Public
Assembly Act with the pertinent portion of the Reyes case, the Court elucidated as follows:
[18]
provision, not to have modified the permit in terms satisfactory to the applicant.

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
x x x [The public official concerned shall] appraise whether there may be valid objections to the 94949 are REVERSED. The Court DECLARES that respondent committed grave abuse of
grant of the permit or to its grant but at another public place. It is an indispensable condition to discretion in modifying the rally permit issued on June 16, 2006 insofar as it altered the venue
such refusal or modification that the clear and present danger test be the standard for the from Mendiola Bridge to Plaza Miranda.
decision reached. If he is of the view that there is such an imminent and grave danger of a
substantive evil, the applicants must be heard on the matter. Thereafter, his decision, whether
favorable or adverse, must be transmitted to them at the earliest opportunity. Thus if so minded,
[16]
they can have recourse to the proper judicial authority. (italics and underscoring supplied)
SO ORDERED.
In modifying the permit outright, respondent gravely abused his discretion when he did not
immediately inform the IBP who should have been heard first on the matter of his perceived
28, 1998 Order of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 133 in Special
Proceedings No. M-4686 for Involuntary Insolvency which forbade FWCC from paying any of its
G.R. No. 154622 debts.

[9]
LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, In a Resolution dated March 3, 1999, Prosecutor George V. De Joya dismissed the complaint
against respondent, finding that the letter-agreements between Land Bank and FWCC
restructured and novated the original loan agreement. It was held that there being novation, the
Petitioner, checks issued pursuant to the original loan obligation had lost their efficacy and validity and
cannot be a valid basis to sustain the charge of violation of B.P. 22.

[10]
On June 21, 1999, petitioners motion for reconsideration was likewise denied.
- versus -
Aggrieved, petitioner elevated the matter to the DOJ for review. On April 10, 2000, the DOJ
[11]
issued a Resolution dismissing the appeal. However, upon motion for reconsideration filed by
petitioner, the DOJ reversed its ruling and issued a Resolution dated October 25, 2000 holding
RAMON P. JACINTO, that novation is not a mode of extinguishing criminal liability. Thus, the DOJ held that:

Respondent. WHEREFORE, there being probable cause to hold respondent triable for the offense of violation
of BP 22 (nine (9) counts), the Department Resolution dated April 10, 2000 is hereby
reconsidered and set aside and the resolution of the Office of the City Prosecutor, Makati City,
DECISION
dismissing the complaint should be, as it is, hereby REVERSED. Said office is directed to file the
appropriate informations for violation of BP 22 (nine (9) counts) against respondent. Report the
action taken within ten (10) days from receipt hereof.

[12]
VILLARAMA, JR., J.: SO ORDERED.
[1]
Petitioner Land Bank of the Philippines (Land Bank) seeks the reversal of the Decision dated Respondent moved for a reconsideration of the above Order but it was denied in a Resolution
[2]
November 28, 2001 and the Resolution dated August 6, 2002 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in dated December 18, 2000. Undaunted, respondent filed a petition for certiorari before the CA.
[3]
CA-G.R. SP No. 62773. The CA had set aside the Resolutions dated October 25, 2000 and
[4] [5]
December 18, 2000 of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and reinstated the Resolution dated
On November 28, 2001, the CA, in the assailed Decision, reversed the Resolution of the DOJ
March 3, 1999 of the City Prosecution Office of Makati which dismissed the petitioners complaint
and reinstated the Resolution of Prosecutor De Joya dismissing the complaint.While the CA
against respondent Ramon P. Jacinto in I.S. Nos. 99-A-1536-44 for violation of Batas Pambansa
ruled that novation is not a mode of extinguishing criminal liability, it nevertheless held that
Blg. (B.P.) 22 or The Bouncing Checks Law.
novation may prevent criminal liability from arising in certain cases if novation occurs before
the criminal information is filed in court because the novation causes doubt as to the true nature
The undisputed facts, as gleaned from the records, are as follows: of the obligation. Also, the CA found merit in respondents assertion that a prejudicial question
exists in the instant case because the issue of whether the original obligation of FWCC subject
The First Womens Credit Corporation (FWCC) obtained a loan from the petitioner Land Bank in of the dishonored checks has been novated by the subsequent agreements entered into by
[6]
the aggregate amount of P400 million, evidenced by a Credit Line Agreement dated August FWCC with Land Bank, is already the subject of the appeal in Civil Case No. 98-2337
22, 1997. As security for the loan, respondent Ramon P. Jacinto, President of FWCC, issued in (entitled, First Womens Credit Corporation v. Land Bank of the Philippines for Declaration of
favor of Land Bank nine (9) postdated checks amounting to P465 million and drawn against Novation) pending before the CA. The CA also gave consideration to respondents assertion that
FWCCs account at the Philippine National Bank. Later, before the checks matured, petitioner the Order dated May 28, 1998 of the RTC proscribing FWCC from paying its debts constitutes
and respondent executed several letter agreements which culminated in the execution of a as a justifying circumstance which prevents criminal liability from attaching.
Restructuring Agreement on June 3, 1998. Under the new agreement, the loan obligation
contracted under the Credit Line Agreement of August 22, 1997 was restructured, its terms of Petitioners motion for reconsideration from the said decision having been denied, petitioner filed
payment, among others, having been changed or modified. When FWCC defaulted in the the instant petition for review on certiorari, raising the following assignment of errors:
payment of the loan obligation under the terms of their restructured agreement, petitioner
presented for payment to the drawee bank the postdated checks as they matured. However, all
I
the checks were dishonored or refused payment for the reason Payment Stopped or Drawn
Against Insufficient Funds. Respondent also failed to make good the checks despite demands.
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT THE ELEMENT OF A
PREJUDICIAL QUESTION EXISTS IN THE INSTANT CASE AND THAT THE
Hence, on January 13, 1999, Land Bank, through its Assistant Vice President, Udela C. Salvo,
RECOMMENDATION FOR THE FILING OF INFORMATIONS IN COURT AGAINST THE
Financial Institutions Department, filed before the Makati City Prosecutors Office a Complaint-
[7] RESPONDENT WAS MADE WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION.
Affidavit against respondent for violation of B.P. 22. Respondent filed his Counter-
[8]
Affidavit denying the charges and averring that the complaint is baseless and utterly devoid of
merit as the said loan obligation has been extinguished by payment and novation by virtue of the II
execution of the Restructuring Agreement. Respondent also invoked the proscription in the May
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT RULED THAT THE ORDER DATED based on the same facts, or if there is no necessity that the civil case be determined first before
[21]
MAY 28, 1998 OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MAKATI, BRANCH 133, CONSTITUTES taking up the criminal case, the civil case does not involve a prejudicial question. Neither is
AS A JUSTIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE THAT PREVENTS CRIMINAL LIABILITY FROM there a prejudicial question if the civil and the criminal action can, according to law, proceed
[22]
ATTACHING. independently of each other.

III In the instant case, we find that the question whether there was novation of the Credit Line
Agreement or not is not determinative of whether respondent should be prosecuted for violation
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT FAILED TO TAKE JUDICIAL NOTICE of the Bouncing Checks Law.
OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE LANDBANK CHARTER RELATIVE TO THE COLLECTION OF
[13]
ITS FINANCIAL EXPOSURES. Respondents contention that if it be proven that the loan of FWCC had been novated and
restructured then his liability under the dishonored checks would be extinguished, fails to
Essentially, the issue to be resolved in this case is whether the CA erred in reversing the persuade us. There was no express stipulation in the Restructuring Agreement that respondent
Resolution of the DOJ finding probable cause to hold respondent liable for violation of B.P. 22. is released from his liability on the issued checks and in fact the letter-agreements between
FWCC and Land Bank expressly provide that respondents JSS (Joint and Several Signatures)
continue to secure the loan obligation and the postdated checks issued continue to guaranty the
Petitioner asserts that the June 3, 1998 Restructuring Agreement did not release FWCC from its obligation. In fact, as aptly pointed out by petitioner, out of the nine (9) checks in question, eight
[14]
obligation with Land Bank. It merely accommodated FWCCs sister company, RJ Ventures (8) checks were dated June 8 to October 30, 1998 or after the execution of the June 3, 1998
[15]
and Development Corporation. Whether there was novation or not is also not determinative of Restructuring Agreement. If indeed respondents liability on the checks had been extinguished
respondents responsibility for violation of B.P. 22, as the said special law punishes the act of upon the execution of the Restructuring Agreement, then respondent should have demanded
issuing a worthless check and not the purpose for which the check was issued or the terms and [23]
the return of the checks. However, there was no proof that he had been released from his
conditions relating to its issuance. In ruling that the Order dated May 28, 1998 of the RTC in obligation. On the contrary, the Restructuring Agreement contains a proviso which states
Special Proceedings No. M-4686 constituted a justifying circumstance, the CA failed to take that This Agreement shall not novate or extinguish all previous security, mortgage, and other
[16]
judicial notice of Section 86-B (4) of Republic Act No. 7907 which excludes the proceeds of collateral agreements, promissory notes, solidary undertaking previously executed by and
the checks from the property of the insolvent FWCC. between the parties and shall continue in full force and effect modified only by the provisions of
[24]
this Agreement.
Respondent counters that there was novation which occurred prior to the institution of the
criminal complaint against him and that if proven, it would affect his criminal Moreover, it is well settled that the mere act of issuing a worthless check, even if merely as an
[17]
liability. Respondent averred that if the CA would judicially confirm the existence of novation in [25]
accommodation, is covered by B.P. 22. Thus, this Court has held that the agreement
the appeal of Civil Case No. 98-2337 before it, then it would follow that the value represented by surrounding the issuance of dishonored checks is irrelevant to the prosecution for violation of
the subject checks has been extinguished. Respondent argues that the consideration or value of [26]
B.P. 22. The gravamen of the offense punished by B.P. 22 is the act of making and issuing a
the subject checks have been modified or novated with the execution of the Restructuring [27]
worthless check or a check that is dishonored upon its presentment for payment. Section 1 of
Agreement. The payment of the obligation supposedly already depended on the terms and B.P. 22 enumerates the following elements: (1) the making, drawing, and issuance of any check
conditions of the Restructuring Agreement and no longer on the respective maturity dates of the to apply on account or for value; (2) the knowledge of the maker, drawer, or issuer that at the
subject checks as the value or consideration of the subject checks had been rendered inexistent time of issue he does not have sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment
by the subsequent execution of the Restructuring Agreement. He maintains that the subject of the check in full upon its presentment; and (3) the subsequent dishonor of the check by the
checks can no longer be the basis of criminal liability since the obligation for which they were drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or dishonor for the same reason had not the
issued had already been novated or abrogated. drawer, without any valid cause, ordered the bank to stop payment. Thus, even if it be
subsequently declared that novation took place between the FWCC and petitioner, respondent is
We grant the petition. not exempt from prosecution for violation of B.P. 22 for the dishonored checks.

A prejudicial question generally exists in a situation where a civil action and a criminal action are As to the issue of whether the Order dated May 28, 1998 of the RTC of Makati City in Special
both pending, and there exists in the former an issue that must be preemptively resolved before Proceedings No. M-4686 for Involuntary Insolvency constitutes as a justifying circumstance that
the latter may proceed, because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved would prevents criminal liability from attaching, we rule in the negative. As stated at the outset, the said
be determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal order forbids FWCC from paying its debts as well as from delivering any property belonging to it
[18]
case. The elements of a prejudicial question are provided under Section 7, Rule 111 of to any person for its benefit. Respondent, however, cannot invoke this Order which was directed
the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, as follows: (i) the previously instituted only upon FWCC and is not applicable to him. Therefore, respondent, as surety of the loan is not
civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the subsequent exempt from complying with his obligation for the issuance of the checks.
criminal action, and (ii) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action
[19]
may proceed. WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. The November 28, 2001
Decision and August 6, 2002 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 62773 are
A prejudicial question is understood in law as that which must precede the criminal action and hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Resolution dated October 25, 2000 of the
which requires a decision before a final judgment can be rendered in the criminal action with Department of Justice directing the filing of appropriate Informations for violation of B.P. 22
[20]
which said question is closely connected. Not every defense raised in a civil action will raise a against respondent Ramon P. Jacinto is hereby REINSTATED and UPHELD.
prejudicial question to justify suspension of the criminal action. The defense must involve an
issue similar or intimately related to the same issue raised in the criminal case and its resolution No costs.SO ORDERED.
should determine whether or not the latter action may proceed.If the resolution of the issue in the
civil action will not determine the criminal responsibility of the accused in the criminal action
[9]
On January 9, 1996, the trial court denied the motion for reconsideration.

[10]
[G. R. No. 124498. October 5, 2001] Hence, this petition.

The Issue
EDDIE B. SABANDAL, petitioner, vs. HON. FELIPE S. TONGCO, Presiding Judge,
Regional Trial Court, Manila, Branch 42, and PHILIPPINES TODAY, respondents.
The issue raised is whether a prejudicial question exists to warrant the suspension of the trial of
The Case
the criminal cases for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 against petitioner until after the
resolution of the civil action for specific performance, recovery of overpayment, and damages.
The case is a petition to suspend the criminal proceedings in the Regional Trial Court, Manila,
[1] The Courts Ruling
Branch 42, where petitioner Eddie B. Sabandal is charged with eleven counts of violation of
[2]
Batas Pambansa Bilang 22.
The petition has no merit.
The Facts

The two (2) essential elements of a prejudicial question are: (a) the civil action involves an issue
On February 18, 1989, Eddie B. Sabandal entered into a memorandum of agreement on similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the criminal action; and (b) the resolution of
[11]
dealership with respondent Philippines Today, Inc. for the distribution of the newspaper such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed.
Philippines Today, (now Philippine Star) in Bacolod City and in designated towns in Negros
[3]
Occidental. A prejudicial question is defined as that which arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical
antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another
Under the agreement, petitioner shall pay for an equivalent amount of one month of deliveries in tribunal. The prejudicial question must be determinative of the case before the court but the
advance within the first seven days of the succeeding month. Petitioners allowable percentage jurisdiction to try and resolve the question must be lodged in another court or tribunal. It is a
of return shall be 10% and be entitled to a rebate of P0.15 per copy sold. question based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with it
[12]
that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused.
After execution of the agreement, respondent Philippines Today, Inc. made regular deliveries of
the agreed copies of the newspaper to petitioner. For a civil action to be considered prejudicial to a criminal case as to cause the suspension of
the criminal proceedings until the final resolution of the civil, the following requisites must be
In order to make partial payments for the deliveries, on December 18, 1990 to April 15, 1991, present: (1) the civil case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal
petitioner issued to respondent several checks amounting to ninety thousand (P90,000.00) prosecution would be based; (2) in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil action,
pesos. the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be determined; and (3) juris diction to try
[13]
said question must be lodged in another tribunal.
When respondent presented petitioners checks to the drawee banks for payment, the bank
dishonored the checks for insufficiency of funds and/or account closed. Consequently, If both civil and criminal cases have similar issues or the issue in one is intimately related to the
respondent made oral and written demands for petitioner to make good the checks. However, issues raised in the other, then a prejudicial question would likely exist, provided the other
[14]
petitioner failed to pay despite demands. element or characteristic is satisfied. It must appear not only that the civil case involves the
same facts upon which the criminal prosecution would be based, but also that the resolution of
the issues raised in the civil action would be necessarily determinative of the guilt or innocence
In December 1992, on the basis of a complaint-affidavit filed by respondent Philippines Today, [15]
of the accused. If the resolution of the issue in the civil action will not determine the criminal
Inc., assistant city prosecutor of Manila Jacinto A. de los Reyes, Jr. filed with the Regional Trial responsibility of the accused in the criminal action based on the same facts, or there is no
[4]
Court, Manila eleven informations for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 against petitioner. necessity that the civil case be determined first before taking up the criminal case, therefore, the
[16]
civil case does not involve a prejudicial question. Neither is there a prejudicial question if the
[17]
Three years later, or on October 11, 1995, petitioner filed with the Regional Trial Court, Negros civil and the criminal action can, according to law, proceed independently of each other.
Occidental at Himamaylan, a complaint against Philippines Today, Inc. for specific performance,
[5]
recovery of overpayment and damages. In this case, the issue in the criminal cases for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 is whether
the accused knowingly issued worthless checks. The issue in the civil action for specific
On October 11, 1995, petitioner also filed with the Regional Trial Court, Manila, Branch 42, a performance, overpayment, and damages is whether complainant Sabandal overpaid his
[6]
motion to suspend trial in the criminal cases against him based on a prejudicial question. obligations to Philippines Today, Inc. If, after trial in the civil case, petitioner is shown to have
overpaid respondent, it does not follow that he cannot be held liable for the bouncing checks he
On November 27, 1995, the trial court denied petitioners motion to suspend trial based on a issued, for the mere issuance of worthless checks with knowledge of the insufficiency of funds to
[7] [18]
prejudicial question. support the checks is itself an offense.

On December 20, 1995, petitioner filed with the trial court a motion for reconsideration of the The lower court, therefore, did not err in ruling that the pendency of a civil action for specific
[8] performance, overpayment, and damages did not pose a prejudicial question in the criminal
denial.
cases for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22.
Furthermore, the peculiar circumstances of the case clearly indicate that the filing of the civil
case was a ploy to delay the resolution of the criminal cases. Petitioner filed the civil case three
years after the institution of the criminal charges against him. Apparently, the civil action was
instituted as an afterthought to delay the proceedings in the criminal cases.

Petitioners claim of overpayment to respondent may be raised as a defense during the trial of
the cases for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 charged against him. The civil action for
[19]
recovery of civil liability is impliedly instituted with the filing of the criminal action. Hence,
[20]
petitioner may invoke all defenses pertaining to his civil liability in the criminal action.

The Fallo

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby DISMISSES the petition for lack of merit. The Court directs the
Regional Trial Court, Manila to proceed with the trial of the criminal cases against petitioner with
[21]
all judicious dispatch in accordance with the Speedy Trial Act of 1998.
G.R. No. 138509 July 31, 2000 Article 40 of the Family Code, which was effective at the time of celebration of the second
marriage, requires a prior judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage before a party may
IMELDA MARBELLA-BOBIS, petitioner, remarry. The clear implication of this is that it is not for the parties, particularly the accused, to
8
vs. determine the validity or invalidity of the marriage. Whether or not the first marriage was void for
ISAGANI D. BOBIS, respondent. lack of a license is a matter of defense because there is still no judicial declaration of its nullity at
the time the second marriage was contracted. It should be remembered that bigamy can
successfully be prosecuted provided all its elements concur – two of which are a previous
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: marriage and a subsequent marriage which would have been valid had it not been for the
9
existence at the material time of the first marriage.
On October 21, 1985, respondent contracted a first marriage with one Maria Dulce B. Javier.
Without said marriage having been annulled, nullified or terminated, the same respondent In the case at bar, respondent's clear intent is to obtain a judicial declaration of nullity of his first
contracted a second marriage with petitioner Imelda Marbella-Bobis on January 25, 1996 and marriage and thereafter to invoke that very same judgment to prevent his prosecution for
allegedly a third marriage with a certain Julia Sally Hernandez. Based on petitioner's complaint- bigamy. He cannot have his cake and eat it too. Otherwise, all that an adventurous bigamist has
affidavit, an information for bigamy was filed against respondent on February 25, 1998, which to do is to disregard Article 40 of the Family Code, contract a subsequent marriage and escape
was docketed as Criminal Case No. Q98-75611 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 226, a bigamy charge by simply claiming that the first marriage is void and that the subsequent
Quezon City. Sometime thereafter, respondent initiated a civil action for the judicial declaration marriage is equally void for lack of a prior judicial declaration of nullity of the first. A party may
of absolute nullity of his first marriage on the ground that it was celebrated without a marriage even enter into a marriage aware of the absence of a requisite - usually the marriage license -
license. Respondent then filed a motion to suspend the proceedings in the criminal case for and thereafter contract a subsequent marriage without obtaining a declaration of nullity of the
bigamy invoking the pending civil case for nullity of the first marriage as a prejudicial question to first on the assumption that the first marriage is void. Such scenario would render nugatory the
the criminal case. The trial judge granted the motion to suspend the criminal case in an Order provisions on bigamy. As succinctly held in Landicho v. Relova:
10
1
dated December 29, 1998. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but the same was
denied.
(P)arties to a marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, only competent
courts having such authority. Prior to such declaration of nullity, the validity of the first marriage
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari. Petitioner argues that respondent should have first is beyond question. A party who contracts a second marriage then assumes the risk of being
obtained a judicial declaration of nullity of his first marriage before entering into the second prosecuted for bigamy.
marriage, inasmuch as the alleged prejudicial question justifying suspension of the bigamy case
2
is no longer a legal truism pursuant to Article 40 of the Family Code.
Respondent alleges that the first marriage in the case before us was void for lack of a marriage
license. Petitioner, on the other hand, argues that her marriage to respondent was exempt from
The issue to be resolved in this petition is whether the subsequent filing of a civil action for the requirement of a marriage license. More specifically, petitioner claims that prior to their
declaration of nullity of a previous marriage constitutes a prejudicial question to a criminal case marriage, they had already attained the age of majority and had been living together as husband
for bigamy. 11
and wife for at least five years. The issue in this case is limited to the existence of a prejudicial
question, and we are not called upon to resolve the validity of the first marriage. Be that as it
A prejudicial question is one which arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical may, suffice it to state that the Civil Code, under which the first marriage was celebrated,
3
antecedent of the issue involved therein. It is a question based on a fact distinct and separate provides that "every intendment of law or fact leans toward the validity of marriage, the
12
from the crime but so intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or innocence of the indissolubility of the marriage bonds." [] Hence, parties should not be permitted to judge for
4
accused. It must appear not only that the civil case involves facts upon which the criminal action themselves the nullity of their marriage, for the same must be submitted to the determination of
is based, but also that the resolution of the issues raised in the civil action would necessarily be competent courts. Only when the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be held as void,
5 13
determinative of the criminal case. Consequently, the defense must involve an issue similar or and so long as there is no such declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists. No
intimately related to the same issue raised in the criminal action and its resolution determinative matter how obvious, manifest or patent the absence of an element is, the intervention of the
6 7
of whether or not the latter action may proceed. Its two essential elements are: courts must always be resorted to. That is why Article 40 of the Family Code requires a "final
14
judgment," which only the courts can render. Thus, as ruled in Landicho v. Relova, he who
(a) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the criminal contracts a second marriage before the judicial declaration of nullity of the first marriage
action; and assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy, and in such a case the criminal case may not
be suspended on the ground of the pendency of a civil case for declaration of nullity. In a recent
case for concubinage, we held that the pendency of a civil case for declaration of nullity of
(b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not the criminal action may proceed. 15
marriage is not a prejudicial question. This ruling applies here by analogy since both crimes
presuppose the subsistence of a marriage.
A prejudicial question does not conclusively resolve the guilt or innocence of the accused but
simply tests the sufficiency of the allegations in the information in order to sustain the further
Ignorance of the existence of Article 40 of the Family Code cannot even be successfully invoked
prosecution of the criminal case. A party who raises a prejudicial question is deemed to have 16
as an excuse. The contracting of a marriage knowing that the requirements of the law have not
hypothetically admitted that all the essential elements of a crime have been adequately alleged
been complied with or that the marriage is in disregard of a legal impediment is an act penalized
in the information, considering that the prosecution has not yet presented a single evidence on 17
by the Revised Penal Code. The legality of a marriage is a matter of law and every person is
the indictment or may not yet have rested its case. A challenge of the allegations in the
presumed to know the law. As respondent did not obtain the judicial declaration of nullity when
information on the ground of prejudicial question is in effect a question on the merits of the
he entered into the second marriage, why should he be allowed to belatedly obtain that judicial
criminal charge through a non-criminal suit.
declaration in order to delay his criminal prosecution and subsequently defeat it by his own
disobedience of the law? If he wants to raise the nullity of the previous marriage, he can do it as
a matter of defense when he presents his evidence during the trial proper in the criminal case.
The burden of proof to show the dissolution of the first marriage before the second marriage was
18
contracted rests upon the defense, but that is a matter that can be raised in the trial of the
bigamy case. In the meantime, it should be stressed that not every defense raised in the civil
action may be used as a prejudicial question to obtain the suspension of the criminal action. The
lower court, therefore, erred in suspending the criminal case for bigamy. Moreover, when
respondent was indicted for bigamy, the fact that he entered into two marriage ceremonies
appeared indubitable. It was only after he was sued by petitioner for bigamy that he thought of
seeking a judicial declaration of nullity of his first marriage. The obvious intent, therefore, is that
respondent merely resorted to the civil action as a potential prejudicial question for the purpose
of frustrating or delaying his criminal prosecution. As has been discussed above, this cannot be
done.1awphi1

In the light of Article 40 of the Family Code, respondent, without first having obtained the judicial
declaration of nullity of the first marriage, can not be said to have validly entered into the second
marriage. Per current jurisprudence, a marriage though void still needs a judicial declaration of
such fact before any party can marry again; otherwise the second marriage will also be
19
void. The reason is that, without a judicial declaration of its nullity, the first marriage is
presumed to be subsisting. In the case at bar, respondent was for all legal intents and purposes
regarded as a married man at the time he contracted his second marriage with
20
petitioner. Against this legal backdrop, any decision in the civil action for nullity would not erase
the fact that respondent entered into a second marriage during the subsistence of a first
marriage. Thus, a decision in the civil case is not essential to the determination of the criminal
charge. It is, therefore, not a prejudicial question. As stated above, respondent cannot be
21
permitted to use his own malfeasance to defeat the criminal action against him.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The order dated December 29, 1998 of the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 226 of Quezon City is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the trial court is
ordered to IMMEDIATELY proceed with Criminal Case No. Q98-75611.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-22579 February 23, 1968 permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, for this must be submitted to the judgment of
competent courts and only when the nullity of a marriage is so declared can it be held as void,
ROLANDO LANDICHO, petitioner, and so long as there is no such declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists.
vs. Therefore, according to Viada, he who contracts a second marriage before the judicial
2
HON. LORENZO RELOVA, in his capacity as Judge of the Court of First Instance of declaration of nullity of the first marriage incurs the penalty provided for in this Article. . . ."
Batangas, Branch I, and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
This defense is in accordance with the principle implicit in authoritative decisions of this
3
Jose W. Diokno for petitioner. Court. In Merced v. Diez, what was in issue was the validity of the second marriage, "which
Office of the Solicitor General for respondents. must be determined before hand in the civil action before the criminal action can proceed."
According to the opinion of Justice Labrador: "We have a situation where the issue of the validity
of the second marriage can be determined or must first be determined in the civil action before
FERNANDO, J.: the criminal action for bigamy can be prosecuted. The question of the validity of the second
marriage is, therefore, a prejudicial question because determination of the validity of the second
In this petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction, the question before marriage is determinable in the civil action and must precede the criminal action for bigamy." It
the Court is whether or not the existence of a civil suit for the annulment of marriage at the was the conclusion of this Court then that for petitioner Merced to be found guilty of bigamy, the
instance of the second wife against petitioner, with the latter in turn filing a third party complaint second marriage which he contracted "must first be declared valid." Its validity having been
against the first spouse for the annulment of the first marriage, constitutes a prejudicial question questioned in the civil action, there must be a decision in such a case "before the prosecution for
in a pending suit for bigamy against him. Respondent, Judge Relova answered in the negative. bigamy can proceed."
We sustain him.
4
To the same effect is the doctrine announced in Zapanta v. Mendoza. As explained in the
The pertinent facts as set forth in the petition follow. On February 27, 1963, petitioner was opinion of Justice Dizon: "We have heretofore defined a prejudicial question as that which arises
charged before the Court of First Instance of Batangas, Branch I, presided over by respondent in a case, the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the
Judge, with the offense, of bigamy. It was alleged in the information that petitioner "being then cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal. . . . The prejudicial question — we further said
lawfully married to Elvira Makatangay, which marriage has not been legally dissolved, did then — must be determinative of the case before the court, and jurisdiction to try the same must be
and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage with Fe Lourdes Pasia." lodged in another court. . . . These requisites are present in the case at bar. Should the question
On March 15, 1963, an action was filed before the Court of First Instance ofBatangas, likewise for annulment of the second marriage pending in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga
presided plaintiff respondent Judge Fe Lourdes Pasia, seeking to declare her marriage to prosper on the ground that, according to the evidence, petitioner's consent thereto was obtained
petitioner as null and void ab initio because of the alleged use of force, threats and intimidation by means of duress, force and intimidation, it is obvious that his act was involuntary and can not
allegedly employed by petitioner and because of its allegedly bigamous character. On June 15, be the basis of his conviction for the crime of bigamy with which he was charged in the Court of
1963, petitioner as defendant in said case, filed a third-party complaint, against the third-party First Instance of Bulacan. Thus the issue involved in the action for the annulment of the second
defendant Elvira Makatangay, the first spouse, praying that his marriage with the said third-party marriage is determinative of petitioner's guilt or innocence of the crime of bigamy. . . ."
defendant be declared null and void, on the ground that by means of threats, force and
intimidation, she compelled him to appear and contract marriage with her before the Justice of The situation in this case is markedly different. At the time the petitioner was indicted for
the Peace of Makati, Rizal. bigamy on February 27, 1963, the fact that two marriage ceremonies had been contracted
appeared to be indisputable. Then on March 15, 1963, it was the second spouse, not petitioner
Thereafter, on October 7, 1963, petitioner moved to suspend the hearing of the criminal who filed an action for nullity on the ground of force, threats and intimidation. It was sometime
case pending the decision on the question of the validity of the two marriages involved in the later, on June 15, 1963, to be precise, when petitioner, as defendant in the civil action, filed a
pending civil suit. Respondent Judge on November 19, 1963 denied the motion for lack of merit. third-party complaint against the first spouse alleging that his marriage with her should be
Then came a motion for reconsideration to set aside the above order, which was likewise denied declared null and void on the ground of force, threats and intimidation. As was correctly stressed
on March 2, 1964. Hence this petition, filed on March 13, 1964. in the answer of respondent Judge relying on Viada, parties to a marriage should not be
permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, only competent courts having such authority. Prior to
In a resolution of this Court of March 17, 1964, respondent Judge was required to answer such declaration of nullity, the validity of the first marriage is beyond question. A party who
within ten (10) days, with a preliminary injunction being issued to restrain him from further contracts a second marriage then assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy.
proceeding with the prosecution of the bigamy case. In the meanwhile, before the answer was
filed there was an amended petition for certiorari, the amendment consisting solely in the Such was the situation of petitioner. There is no occasion to indulge in the probability that
inclusion of the People of the Philippines as another respondent. This Court admitted such the third-party complaint against the first wife brought almost five months after the prosecution
amended petition in a resolution of April 3, 1964. for bigamy was started could have been inspired by the thought that he could thus give color to a
defense based on an alleged prejudicial question. The above judicial decisions as well as the
Then came the answer to the amended petition on May 14 of that year where the opinion of Viada preclude a finding that respondent Judge abused, much less gravely abused,
statement of facts as above detailed was admitted, with the qualifications that the bigamy charge his discretion in failing to suspend the hearing as sought by petitioner.
was filed upon the complaint of the first spouse Elvira Makatangay. It alleged as one of its
special and affirmative defenses that the mere fact that "there are actions to annul the marriages WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is denied and the writ of preliminary injunction
entered into by the accused in a bigamy case does not mean that 'prejudicial questions are issued dissolved. With costs.1äwphï1.ñët
automatically raised in said civil actions as to warrant the suspension of the criminal case for
1
bigamy." The answer stressed that even on the assumption that the first marriage was null and
void on the ground alleged by petitioner, the fact would not be material to the outcome of the
criminal case. It continued, referring to Viada, that "parties to the marriage should not be
G.R. No. 137567 June 20, 2000 Petitioner contends that the pendency of the petition for declaration of nullity of his marriage
based on psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the Family Code is a prejudicial question
MEYNARDO L. BELTRAN, petitioner, that should merit the suspension of the criminal case for concubinage filed against him by his
vs. wife.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, and HON. JUDGE FLORENTINO TUAZON, JR., being the
Judge of the RTC, Brach 139, Makati City, respondents. Petitioner also contends that there is a possibility that two conflicting decisions might result from
the civil case for annulment of marriage and the criminal case for concubinage. In the civil case,
BUENA, J.: the trial court might declare the marriage as valid by dismissing petitioner's complaint but in the
criminal case, the trial court might acquit petitioner because the evidence shows that his
marriage is void on ground of psychological incapacity. Petitioner submits that the possible
This petition for review, filed under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, seeks to review conflict of the courts' ruling regarding petitioner's marriage can be avoided, if the criminal case
and set aside the Order dated January 28, 1999 issued by Judge Florentino A. Tuazon, Jr. of the will be suspended, until the court rules on the validity of marriage; that if petitioner's marriage is
Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 139 in Special Civil Case No. 98-3056, entitled declared void by reason of psychological incapacity then by reason of the arguments submitted
"Meynardo Beltran vs. People of the Philippines and Hon. Judge Alden Cervantes of the in the subject petition, his marriage has never existed; and that, accordingly, petitioner could not
Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 61." The said Order denied petitioner's prayer for be convicted in the criminal case because he was never before a married man.
the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin Judge Cervantes from proceeding with
the trial of Criminal Case No. 236176, a concubinage case against petitioner on the ground that
the pending petition for declaration of nullity of marriage filed by petitioner against his wife Petitioner's contentions are untenable.
constitutes a prejudicial question.
The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting decisions. It
The antecedent facts of the case are undisputed: has two essential elements: (a) the civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to
the issue raised in the criminal action; and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or
11
not the criminal action may proceed.
Petitioner Meynardo Beltran and wife Charmaine E. Felix were married on June 16, 1973 at the
1
Immaculate Concepcion Parish Church in Cubao, Quezon City.
The pendency of the case for declaration of nullity of petitioner's marriage is not a prejudicial
2 question to the concubinage case. For a civil case to be considered prejudicial to a criminal
On February 7, 1997, after twenty-four years of marriage and four children, petitioner filed a action as to cause the suspension of the latter pending the final determination of the civil c ase, it
petition for nullity of marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity under Article 36 of the must appear not only that the said civil case involves the same facts upon which the criminal
Family Code before Branch 87 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. The case was prosecution would be based, but also that in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the
3
docketed as Civil Case No. Q-97-30192. aforesaid civil action, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be determined.

In her Answer to the said petition, petitioner's wife Charmaine Felix alleged that it was petitioner Art. 40 of the Family Code provides:
who abandoned the conjugal home and lived with a certain woman named Milagros
4 5
Salting. Charmaine subsequently filed a criminal complaint for concubinage under Article 334 of
the Revised Penal Code against petitioner and his paramour before the City Prosecutor's Office The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of remarriage on the
of Makati who, in a Resolution dated September 16, 1997, found probable cause and ordered basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void.
6
the filing of an Information against them. The case, docketed as Criminal Case No. 236176, was
12
filed before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 61.1awphi1 In Domingo vs. Court of Appeals, this Court ruled that the import of said provision is that for
purposes of remarriage, the only legally acceptable basis for declaring a previous marriage an
On March 20, 1998, petitioner, in order to forestall the issuance of a warrant for his arrest, filed a absolute nullity is a final judgment declaring such previous marriage void, whereas, for purposes
Motion to Defer Proceedings Including the Issuance of the Warrant of Arrest in the criminal case. of other than remarriage, other evidence is acceptable. The pertinent portions of said Decision
Petitioner argued that the pendency of the civil case for declaration of nullity of his marriage read:
posed a prejudicial question to the determination of the criminal case. Judge Alden Vasquez
7
Cervantes denied the foregoing motion in the Order dated August 31, 1998. Petitioner's motion . . . Undoubtedly, one can conceive of other instances where a party might well invoke the
for reconsideration of the said Order of denial was likewise denied in an Order dated December absolute nullity of a previous marriage for purposes other than remarriage, such as in case of an
9, 1998. action for liquidation, partition, distribution and separation of property between the erstwhile
spouses, as well as an action for the custody and support of their common children and the
In view of the denial of his motion to defer the proceedings in the concubinage case, petitioner delivery of the latters' presumptive legitimes. In such cases, evidence needs must be adduced,
went to the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 139 on certiorari, questioning the Orders testimonial or documentary, to prove the existence of grounds rendering such a previous
dated August 31, 1998 and December 9, 1998 issued by Judge Cervantes and praying for the marriage an absolute nullity. These needs not be limited solely to an earlier final judgment of a
8 9
issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction. In an Order dated January 28, 1999, the Regional court declaring such previous marriage void.
Trial Court of Makati denied the petition for certiorari. Said Court subsequently issued another
10
Order dated February 23, 1999, denying his motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of his So that in a case for concubinage, the accused, like the herein petitioner need not present a final
petition. judgment declaring his marriage void for he can adduce evidence in the criminal case of the
nullity of his marriage other than proof of a final judgment declaring his marriage void.
Undaunted, petitioner filed the instant petition for review.
With regard to petitioner's argument that he could be acquitted of the charge of concubinage
should his marriage be declared null and void, suffice it to state that even a subsequent
pronouncement that his marriage is void from the beginning is not a defense.

1 14
Analogous to this case is that of Landicho vs. Relova cited in Donato vs. Luna where this
Court held that:

. . . Assuming that the first marriage was null and void on the ground alleged by petitioner, that
fact would not be material to the outcome of the criminal case. Parties to the marriage should not
be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, for the same must be submitted to the judgment
of the competent courts and only when the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be held as
void, and so long as there is no such declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists.
Therefore, he who contracts a second marriage before the judicial declaration of nullity of the
first marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy.

Thus, in the case at bar it must also be held that parties to the marriage should not be permitted
to judge for themselves its nullity, for the same must be submitted to the judgment of the
competent courts and only when the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be held as void,
and so long as there is no such declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists for all
intents and purposes. Therefore, he who cohabits with a woman not his wife before the judicial
declaration of nullity of the marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for concubinage. The
lower court therefore, has not erred in affirming the Orders of the judge of the Metropolitan Trial
Court ruling that pendency of a civil action for nullity of marriage does not pose a prejudicial
question in a criminal case for concubinage.

WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the instant petition is DISMISSED.


On November 16, 1973, respondent Court, motu proprio, suspended the proceedings in the
5
Bigamy Case upon being informed of the pendency of the present Petition before this Court.
G.R. No. L-37652 December 26, 1984
For a civil action to be considered prejudicial to a criminal case as to cause the suspension of
VIRGINIA B. PRADO, petitioner, the criminal proceedings until the final resolution of the civil, the following requisites must be
vs. present: (1) the civil case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and THE HON. RAFAEL SISON, Presiding Judge of the prosecution would be based; (2) in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil action,
Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch XXVII, respondents. the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be determined; and (3) jurisdiction to try
6
said question must be lodged in another tribunal.

The foregoing requisites being present in the case at bar, the suspensive effect of a prejudicial
question comes into play. The Solicitor General's opposition to the suspension of trial in the
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.: Bigamy Case on the allegations that the civil action for annulment was belatedly filed after
petitioner had faced trial in the Bigamy Case and only to stave off prosecution; that the grounds
Whether or not a pending civil suit for annulment of marriage constitutes a prejudicial question in for annulment of her second marriage are bereft of factual basis and truth in that petitioner would
a Bigamy Case is the issue involved in this Petition for certiorari & Prohibition. not have waited for two (2) years from the filing of the bigamy charge, or for almost four (4) years
from the celebration of the second marriage, before filing the annulment case, if she had valid
On August 5, 1971, an Information was filed with the then Court of First Instance of Manila, grounds to annul the same; that she had freely cohabited with Julio Manalansang for about six
Branch XXVII, docketed as Criminal Case No. 5877 (the Bigamy Case) charging petitioner (6) months after their marriage; and that even her mother was present during the marriage
Virginia B. Prado with the crime of Bigamy, committed as follows: ceremony, are all defenses which may be raised in the Annulment Case, and which must still be
proved. Should petitioner be able to establish that her consent to the second marriage was,
indeed, obtained by means of force and intimidation, her act of entering into marriage with Julio
That on or about the 17th day of October 1969, in Saigon, South Vietnam, at the Philippine
Manalansang would be involuntary, and there can be no conviction for the crime of Bigamy.
Embassy which is an extension of Philippine Sovereignty and therefore within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the said accused, having been previously legally united in wedlock with
one Arturo R. Espiritu without said marriage having been legally dissolved, did then and there And while it may be, as contended by the Solicitor General, that the mere filing of an Annulment
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract, a subsequent and second marriage with one Julio Case does not automatically give rise to a prejudicial question as to bar trial of a Bigamy Case,
Manalansang. considering the gravity of the charge, petitioner cannot be deprived of her right to prove her
grounds for annulment, which could wen be determinative of her guilt or innocence. The State is
not thereby deprived from proceeding with the criminal case in the event that the Court decrees
Contrary to law. 1
against petitioner in the Annulment Case.

Petitioner moved to dismiss the case on the ground that Philippine Courts have no jurisdiction
WHEREFORE, the assailed order of September 19, 1973 is hereby set aside. As the
over the marriage solemnized in Saigon, as it is outside Philippine territory and the case does
proceedings in Criminal Case No. 5877 had already been suspended, the same shall be
not fall under any of the exceptions enumerated in Article 2 of the Revised Penal Code, which
2 resumed by the proper Regional Trial Court upon the final determination of Family Case No. 029
allow enforcement of criminal laws outside the Philippine Archipelago. Opposition based on the
of the former Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Caloocan City, if the same has not yet
principle of extraterritoriality was filed by the prosecution. Dismissal was denied by the Trial
been terminated, and if the Decision in the latter case should so warrant.
Court, which Order was assailed by petitioner in a Petition for certiorari and Prohibition filed with
3
this Court in G.R. No. L-36344. We resolved to dismiss the same "for being premature, an
4 SO ORDERED.
appeal by way of review on certiorari in due course being the proper remedy.

On July 21, 1973, petitioner filed with the Court of First Instance of Rizal, an action for
annulment of her Saigon marriage (Civil Case No. C-2894) contending that her consent thereto
was obtained by means of force and intimidation, and that she never freely cohabited with her
second husband, Julio Manalansang. The case was subsequently transferred to the Juvenile
and Domestic Relations Court, Caloocan City, docketed as Family Case No. 029.

On July 23, 1973, a "Motion to Suspend Trial by Reason of the Existence of Prejudicial
Question" was filed by petitioner in the Bigamy Case. The prosecution opposed the same
maintaining that it was merely a device resorted to by petitioner to delay the disposition of said
criminal case.

Respondent Court denied suspension of trial. Petitioner moved for reconsideration reiterating
her argument that a prejudicial question exists, which must first be resolved as the same would
be determinative of her guilt or innocence. Reconsideration was denied on September 19, 1973,
the Trial Court ruling that the Motion to Suspend was only a scheme to unduly delay the hearing
of the case. Thus, this Petition for certiorari and Prohibition seeking the annulment of said Order.
G.R. No. L-53642 April 15, 1988 A motion for reconsideration was flied by herein petitioner thru counsel citing as one of his
grounds for suspension of proceedings the ruling laid down by this Court in the case of De la
2
LEONILO C. DONATO, petitioners, Cruz vs. Ejercito which was a much later case than that cited by respondent judge in his order
vs. of denial.
HON. ARTEMON D. LUNA, PRESIDING JUDGE, COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF MANIIA,
BRANCH XXXII HON. JOSE FLAMINIANO, CITY FISCAL OF MANILA; PAZ B. The motion for reconsideration of the said order was likewise denied in an order dated April 14,
ABAYAN, respondents. 1980, for lack of merit. Hence, the present petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary
injunction.
Leopoldo P. Dela Rosa for petitioner.
A prejudicial question has been defined to be one which arises in a case, the resolution of which
Emiterio C. Manibog for private respondent. question is a logical antecedent of the issue involved in said case, and the cognizance of which
3
pertains to another tribunal. It is one based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but so
intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it to
City Fiscal of Manila for public respondent. suspend the criminal action, it must appear not only that said case involves facts intimately
related to those upon which the criminal prosecution would be based but also that in the
resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused
4
would necessarily be determined. A prejudicial question usually comes into play in a situation
GANCAYCO, J.: where a civil action and a criminal action may proceed, because howsoever the issue raised in
the civil action is resolved would be determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the
5
accused in a criminal case.
In this petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction, the question for the
resolution of the Court is whether or not a criminal case for bigamy pending before the Court of
First Itance of Manila should be suspended in view of a civil case for annulment of marriage The requisites of a prejudicial question do not obtain in the case at bar. It must be noted that the
pending before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on the ground that the latter issue before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court touching upon the nullity of the second
constitutes a prejudicial question. The respondent judge ruled in the negative. We sustain him. marriage is not determinative of petitioner Donato's guilt or innocence in the crime of bigamy.
Furthermore, it was petitioner's second wife, the herein private respondent Paz B. Abayan who
filed the complaint for annulment of the second marriage on the ground that her consent was
The pertinent facts as set forth in the records follow. On January 23, 1979, the City Fiscal of
obtained through deceit.
Manila acting thru Assistant City Fiscal Amado N. Cantor filed an information for bigamy against
herein petitioner, Leonilo C. Donato with the Court of First Instance of Manila, docketed as
Criminal Case No. 43554 and assigned to Branch XXXII of said court. The information was filed Petitioner Donato raised the argument that the second marriage should have been declared null
based on the complaint of private respondent Paz B. Abayan. and void on the ground of force, threats and intimidation allegedly employed against him by
private respondent only sometime later when he was required to answer the civil action for
anulment of the second marriage. The doctrine elucidated upon by the case of Landicho vs.
On September 28, 1979, before the petitioner's arraignment, private respondent filed with the 6
Relova may be applied to the present case. Said case states that:
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Manila a civil action for declaration of nullity of her
marriage with petitioner contracted on September 26, 1978, which action was docketed as Civil
Case No. E-02627. Said civil case was based on the ground that private respondent consented The mere fact that there are actions to annul the marriages entered into by the accused in a
to entering into the marriage, which was petitioner Donato's second one, since she had no bigamy case does not mean that "prejudicial questions" are automatically raised in civil actions
previous knowledge that petitioner was already married to a certain Rosalinda R. Maluping on as to warrant the suspension of the case. In order that the case of annulment of marriage be
June 30, 1978. Petitioner Donato's answer in the civil case for nullity interposed the defense that considered a prejudicial question to the bigamy case against the accused, it must be shown that
his second marriage was void since it was solemnized without a marriage license and that force, the petitioner's consent to such marriage must be the one that was obtained by means of
violence, intimidation and undue influence were employed by private respondent to obtain duress, force and intimidation to show that his act in the second marriage must be involuntary
petitioner's consent to the marriage. Prior to the solemnization of the subsequent or second and cannot be the basis of his conviction for the crime of bigamy. The situation in the present
marriage, petitioner and private respondent had lived together and deported themselves as case is markedly different. At the time the petitioner was indicted for bigamy on February 27,
husband and wife without the benefit of wedlock for a period of at least five years as evidenced 1963, the fact that two marriage ceremonies had been contracted appeared to be indisputable.
by a joint affidavit executed by them on September 26, 1978, for which reason, the requisite And it was the second spouse, not the petitioner who filed the action for nullity on the ground of
marriage license was dispensed with pursuant to Article 76 of the New Civil Code pertaining to force, threats and intimidation. And it was only on June 15, 1963, that petitioner, as defendant in
marriages of exceptional character. the civil action, filed a third-party complaint against the first spouse alleging that his marriage
with her should be declared null and void on the ground of force, threats and intimidation.
Assuming that the first marriage was null and void on the ground alleged by petitioner, the fact
Prior to the date set for the trial on the merits of Criminal Case No. 43554, petitioner filed a
would not be material to the outcome of the case. Parties to the marriage should not be
motion to suspend the proceedings of said case contending that Civil Case No. E-02627 seeking
permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, for the same must be submitted to the judgment of
the annulment of his second marriage filed by private respondent raises a prejudicial question
the competent courts and only when the nullity of the marriage is so declared can it be held as
which must first be determined or decided before the criminal case can proceed.
void, and so long as there is no such declaration the presumption is that the marriage exists.
Therefore, he who contracts a second marriage before the judicial declaration of nullity of the
In an order dated April 7, 1980. Hon. Artemon D. Luna denied the motion to suspend the first marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy. The lower court therefore, has
proceedings in Criminal Case No. 43554 for bigamy. Respondent judge's basis for denial is the not abused much less gravely abused, its discretion in failing to suspend the hearing as sought
1
ruling laid down in the case of Landicho vs. Relova. The order further directed that the by petitioner.
proceedings in the criminal case can proceed as scheduled.
In the case at bar, petitioner has not even sufficiently shown that his consent to the second
marriage has been obtained by the use of threats, force and intimidation.

Petitioner calls the attention of this Court to the fact that the case of De la Cruz vs. Ejercito is a
later case and as such it should be the one applied to the case at bar. We cannot agree. The
situation in the case at bar is markedly different. In the aforecited case it was accused Milagros
dela Cruz who was charged with bigamy for having contracted a second marriage while a
previous one existed. Likewise, Milagros dela Cruz was also the one who filed an action for
annulment on the ground of duress, as contra-distinguished from the present case wherein it
was private respondent Paz B. Abayan, petitioner's second wife, who filed a complaint for
annulment of the second marriage on the ground that her consent was obtained through deceit
since she was not aware that petitioner's marriage was still subsisting. Moreover, in De la Cruz,
a judgment was already rendered in the civil case that the second marriage of De la Cruz was
null and void, thus determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case. In
the present case, there is as yet no such judgment in the civil case.

Pursuant to the doctrine discussed in Landicho vs. Relova, petitioner Donato cannot apply the
rule on prejudicial questions since a case for annulment of marriage can be considered as a
prejudicial question to the bigamy case against the accused only if it is proved that the
petitioner's consent to such marriage was obtained by means of duress, violence and
intimidation in order to establish that his act in the subsequent marriage was an involuntary one
and as such the same cannot be the basis for conviction. The preceding elements do not exist in
the case at bar.

Obviously, petitioner merely raised the issue of prejudicial question to evade the prosecution of
the criminal case. The records reveal that prior to petitioner's second marriage on September
26, 1978, he had been living with private respondent Paz B. Abayan as husband and wife for
more than five years without the benefit of marriage. Thus, petitioner's averments that his
consent was obtained by private respondent through force, violence, intimidation and undue
influence in entering a subsequent marriage is belled by the fact that both petitioner and private
respondent executed an affidavit which stated that they had lived together as husband and wife
without benefit of marriage for five years, one month and one day until their marital union was
formally ratified by the second marriage and that it was private respondent who eventually filed
the civil action for nullity.

Another event which militates against petitioner's contentions is the fact hat it was only when
Civil Case No. E-02627 was filed on September 28, 1979, or more than the lapse of one year
from the solemnization of the second marriage that petitioner came up with the story that his
consent to the marriage was secured through the use of force, violence, intimidation and undue
influence. Petitioner also continued to live with private respondent until November 1978, when
the latter left their abode upon learning that Leonilo Donato was already previously married.

In the light of the preceding factual circumstances, it can be seen that the respondent Judge did
not err in his earlier order. There is no pivotal issue that must be pre-emptively resolved in Civil
Case No. E-02627 before proceedings in the criminal action for bigamy can be undertaken.

Accordingly, there being no prejudicial question shown to exit the order of denial issued by the
respondent judge dated April 14, 1980 should be sustained.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of
merit. We make no pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
th
G.R. No. 148072 That on or about the 27 day of December, 1997, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused,
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and knowingly make an untruthful
FRANCISCO MAGESTRADO, statement under oath upon a material matter before a competent officer authorized to receive
and administer oath and which the law so require, to wit: the said accused subscribe and swore
to an Affidavit of Loss before Notary Public Erlinda B. Espejo of Quezon City, per Doc. No. 168,
Petitioner, Page No. 35, Book No. CLXXIV of her notarial registry, falsely alleging that he lost Owners
Duplicate Certificate of TCT No. N-173163, which document was used in support of a Petition
For Issuance of New Owners Duplicate Copy of Certificate of Title and filed with the Regional
Trial Court of Quezon City, docketed as LRC# Q-10052 (98) on January 28, 1998 and assigned
- versus - to Branch 99 of the said court, to which said Francisco M. Mag[e]strado signed and swore on its
verification, per Doc. 413 Page 84 Book No. CLXXV Series of 1998 of Notary Public Erlinda B.
Espejo of Quezon City; the said accused knowing fully well that the allegations in the said
affidavit and petition are false, the truth of the matter being that the property subject of Transfer
Certificate of Title No. N-173163 was mortgaged to complainant Elena M. Librojo as collateral for
a loan in the amount of P 758,134.42 and as a consequence of which said title to the property
was surrendered by him to the said complainant by virtue of said loan, thus, making untruthful
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINESand ELENA M. LIBROJO and deliberate assertions of falsehoods, to the damage and prejudice of the said Elena M.
[4]
Librojo.
Respondents.
The case was raffled to the MeTC of Quezon City, Branch 43, where it was docketed as Criminal
Case No. 90721 entitled, People of the Philippines v. Francisco Magestrado.
DECISION
[5]
On 30 June 1999, petitioner filed a motion for suspension of proceedings based on
a prejudicial question. Petitioner alleged that Civil Case No. Q-98-34349, a case for recovery of
a sum of money pending before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 84, and
Civil Case No. Q-98- 34308, a case for Cancellation of Mortgage, Delivery of Title and
Damages, pending before the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 77, must be resolved first before
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: Criminal Case No. 90721 may proceed since the issues in the said civil cases are similar or
intimately related to the issues raised in the criminal action.

[1]
This Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks to reverse the (1) Resolution dated 5 March 2001
[6]
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 63293 entitled, Francisco Magestrado v. Hon. On 14 July 1999, MeTC-Branch 43 issued an Order denying petitioners motion for suspension
Estrella T. Estrada, in her capacity as the Presiding Judge of Regional Trial Court, Branch 83 of of proceedings, thus:
Quezon City, People of the Philippines and Elena M. Librojo, which dismissed petitioner
Francisco Magestrados Petition for Certiorari for being the wrong remedy; and
[2]
(2) Resolution dated 3 May 2001 of the same Court denying petitioners motion for
reconsideration.
Acting on the Motion for Suspension of Proceedings filed by the [herein petitioner Magestrado],
thru counsel, and the Comment and Opposition thereto, the Court after an evaluation of the
same, finds the aforesaid motion without merit, hence, is hereby DENIED, it appearing that the
resolution of the issues raised in the civil actions is not determinative of the guilt or innocence of
[3]
Private respondent Elena M. Librojo filed a criminal complaint for perjury against petitioner with the accused.
the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City, which was docketed as I.S. No. 98-3900.
Hence, the trial of this case shall proceed as previously scheduled on July 19 and August 2,
1993 at 8:30 in the morning.

After the filing of petitioners counter-affidavit and the appended pleadings, the Office of the City
Prosecutor recommended the filing of an information for perjury against petitioner. Thus,
Assistant City Prosecutor Josephine Z. Fernandez filed an information for perjury against
petitioner with the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Quezon City. Pertinent portions of the
information are hereby quoted as follows: [7]
On 17 August 1999, a motion for reconsideration was filed by petitioner but was denied by the
[8]
MeTC in an Order dated 19 October 1999.
[9]
Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court, The resolution or dismissal in special civil actions, as in the instant petition, may be appealed x x
with a prayer for Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction before the RTC of Quezon City, x under Section 10, Rule 44 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and not by petition for certiorari
Branch 83, docketed as Civil Case No. Q-99-39358, on the ground that MeTC Judge Billy J. under Rule 65 of the same rules. Thus, the said rule provides:
Apalit committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in denying
his motion to suspend the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 90721. Section 10. Time for filing memoranda on special cases. In certiorari, prohibition, mandamus,
quo warranto and habeas corpus cases, the parties shall file in lieu of briefs, their respective
memoranda within a non-extendible period of thirty (30) days from receipt of the notice issued by
the clerk that all the evidence, oral and documentary, is already attached to the record x x x.
On 14 March 2000, RTC-Branch 83 dismissed the petition and denied the prayer for the
issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, reasoning thus: WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing premises, the instant Petition for Certiorari
[15]
under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is hereby DISMISSED.

Scrutinizing the complaints and answers in the civil cases abovementioned, in relation to the
criminal action for PERJURY, this Court opines and so holds that there is no prejudicial question
involved as to warrant the suspension of the criminal action to await the outcome of the civil
cases. The civil cases are principally for determination whether or not a loan was obtained by The Court of Appeals denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration
[16] [17]
in a Resolution dated 3
petitioner and whether or not he executed the deed of real estate mortgage involving the May 2001.
property covered by TCT No. N-173163, whereas the criminal case is for perjury which imputes
upon petitioner the wrongful execution of an affidavit of loss to support his petition for issuance
of a new owners duplicate copy of TCT No. 173163. Whether or not he committed perjury is the
issue in the criminal case which may be resolved independently of the civil cases. Note that the
affidavit of loss was executed in support of the petition for issuance of a new owners duplicate Hence, petitioner comes before us via a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the
[10]
copy of TCT No. N-173163 which petition was raffled to Branch 99 of the RTC. x x x. Revised Rules of Court raising the following issues:

1. Whether or not the Orders of Judge Estrella T. Estrada dated March 14, 2000 denying
petitioners Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, and her subsequent Order
Again, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration
[11]
but this was denied by RTC- Branch 83 in dated December 21, 2000, denying the Motion for Reconsideration thereafter filed can only be
[12]
an Order dated 21 December 2000. reviewed by the Court of Appeals thru appeal under Section 10, Rule 44 of the 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure.

[13]
Dissatisfied, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of
the Revised Rules of Court, which was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 63293. Petitioner alleged 2. Whether or not Judge Estrella T. Estrada of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 83, Quezon
that RTC Judge Estrella T. Estrada committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or City, had committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of her jurisdiction
excess of jurisdiction in denying the Petition for Certiorariin Civil Case No. Q-99-39358, and in in denying the Petition for Certiorari and petitioners subsequent motion for reconsideration on
effect sustaining the denial by MeTC-Branch 43 of petitioners motion to suspend the the ground of a prejudicial question pursuant to the Rules on Criminal Procedure and the
proceedings in Criminal Case No. 90721, as well as his subsequent motion for reconsideration prevailing jurisprudence.
thereof.

[14]
On 5 March 2001, the Court of Appeals dismissed the Petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 63293 on
the ground that petitioners remedy should have been an appeal from the dismissal by RTC- After consideration of the procedural and substantive issues raised by petitioner, we find the
Branch 83 of his Petition for Certiorari in Q-99-39358. The Court of Appeals ruled that: instant petition to be without merit.

Is this instant Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 the correct and appropriate remedy? The procedural issue herein basically hinges on the proper remedy which petitioner should have
availed himself of before the Court of Appeals: an ordinary appeal or a petition
We rule negatively. for certiorari. Petitioner claims that he correctly questioned RTC-Branch 83s Order of dismissal
of his Petition for Certiorari in Civil Case No. Q-99-39358 through a Petition for Certiorari before
the Court of Appeals. Private respondent and public respondent People of the Philippines insist question whether of fact or of law, whether of error of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion or
that an ordinary appeal was the proper remedy. error of judgment which the trial court might have committed.But petitioners instead filed a
special civil action for certiorari.

We agree with respondents. We hold that the appellate court did not err in dismissing petitioners
Petition for Certiorari, pursuant to Rule 41, Section 2 of the Revised Rules of Court (and not We have time and again reminded members of the bench and bar that a special civil action
under Rule 44, Section 10, invoked by the Court of Appeals in its Resolution dated 5 March for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court lies only when there is no appeal nor
[19]
2001). plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. Certiorari cannot be allowed
when a party to a case fails to appeal a judgment despite the availability of that
[20] [21]
remedy, certiorari not being a substitute for lost appeal.

The correct procedural recourse for petitioner was appeal, not only because RTC-Branch 83 did As certiorari is not a substitute for lost appeal, we have repeatedly emphasized that the
not commit any grave abuse of discretion in dismissing petitioners Petition for Certiorari in Civil perfection of appeals in the manner and within the period permitted by law is not only mandatory
Case No. Q-99-39358 but also because RTC-Branch 83s Order of dismissal was a final order but jurisdictional, and that the failure to perfect an appeal renders the decision of the trial court
from which petitioners should have appealed in accordance with Section 2, Rule 41 of the final and executory. This rule is founded upon the principle that the right to appeal is not part of
Revised Rules of Court. due process of law but is a mere statutory privilege to be exercised only in the manner and in
accordance with the provisions of the law. Neither can petitioner invoke the doctrine that rules of
technicality must yield to the broader interest of substantial justice. While every litigant must be
given the amplest opportunity for the proper and just determination of his cause, free from
constraints of technicalities, the failure to perfect an appeal within the reglementary period is not
An order or a judgment is deemed final when it finally disposes of a pending action, so that a mere technicality. It raises a jurisdictional problem as it deprives the appellate court of
[22]
nothing more can be done with it in the trial court. In other words, the order or judgment ends jurisdiction over the appeal.
the litigation in the lower court. Au contraire, an interlocutory order does not dispose of the case
[18]
completely, but leaves something to be done as regards the merits of the latter. RTC-Branch
83s Order dated 14 March 2001 dismissing petitioners Petition for Certiorari in Civil Case No. Q-
99-39358 finally disposes of the said case and RTC-Branch 83 can do nothing more with the
case. The remedies of appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive and not alternative or
[23]
successive. A party cannot substitute the special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court for the remedy of appeal. The existence and availability of the right of appeal are
[24]
antithetical to the availability of the special civil action for certiorari. As this Court held
[25]
in Fajardo v. Bautista :
Under Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, an appeal may be taken from a judgment or final order that
completely disposes of the case, or of a particular matter therein when declared by the Revised
Rules of Court to be appealable. The manner of appealing an RTC judgment or final order is
also provided in Rule 41 as follows:
Generally, an order of dismissal, whether right or wrong, is a final order, and hence a proper
subject of appeal, not certiorari. The remedies of appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive
and not alternative or successive. Accordingly, although the special civil action of certiorari is not
proper when an ordinary appeal is available, it may be granted where it is shown that the appeal
Section 2. Modes of appeal. would be inadequate, slow, insufficient, and will not promptly relieve a party from the injurious
effects of the order complained of, or where appeal is inadequate and ineffectual. Nevertheless,
certiorari cannot be a substitute for the lost or lapsed remedy of appeal, where such loss is
occasioned by the petitioners own neglect or error in the choice of remedies.
(a) Ordinary appeal. The appeal to the Court of Appeals in cases decided by the Regional
Trial Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction shall be taken by filing a notice of appeal with
the court which rendered the judgment or final order appealed from and serving a copy thereof
upon the adverse party. No record on appeal shall be required except in special proceedings
and other cases of multiple or separate appeals where the law or these Rules so require. In
such cases, the record on appeal shall be filed and served in like manner. On 21 December 2000, petitioner received a copy of the Order of the RTC-Branch 83 denying
his motion for reconsideration of the dismissal of his Petition for Certiorariin Civil Case No. Q-99-
39358; hence, he had until 18 January 2001 within which to file an appeal with the Court of
Appeals. The Petition for Certiorari filed by petitioner on 19 February 2001 with the Court of
Appeals cannot be a substitute for the lost remedy of appeal. As petitioner failed to file a timely
appeal, RTC-Branch 83s dismissal of his Petition for Certiorari had long become final and
executory.
Certiorari generally lies only when there is no appeal nor any other plain, speedy or adequate
remedy available to petitioners. Here, appeal was available. It was adequate to deal with any
For this procedural lapse, the Court of Appeals correctly denied outright the Petition 3. Condemning [private respondent] to pay [petitioner] the sums of
for Certiorari filed by petitioner before it.

a) P100,000.00 as MORAL DAMAGES;


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

b) P50,000.00 as EXEMPLARY DAMAGES;


In the Petition at bar, petitioner raises several substantive issues. Petitioner harps on the need
for the suspension of the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 90721 for perjury pending before
MeTC-Branch 43 based on a prejudicial question still to be resolved in Civil Case No. Q-98-
34308 (for cancellation of mortgage) and Civil Case No. Q-98-34349 (for collection of a sum of
money) which are pending before other trial courts. c) P50,000.00 as Attorneys fees and

d) Cost of suit.

For clarity, we shall first discuss the allegations of petitioner in his complaint in Civil Case No. Q-
98-34308 (for cancellation of mortgage) and that of private respondent in her complaint in Civil
Case No. Q-98-34349 (for collection of a sum of money). 4. A general relief is likewise prayed for (sic) just and equitable under the premises.

Civil Case No. Q-98-34308 is a complaint for Cancellation of Mortgage, Delivery of Title and
Damages filed on 8 May 1988 by petitioner against private respondent with RTC-Branch
77. Petitioner alleges that he purchased a parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title [26]
Civil Case No. Q-98-34349, on the other hand, is a complaint for a sum of money with
No. N-173163 thru private respondent, a real estate broker. In the process of negotiation, a motion for issuance of a writ of attachment filed by private respondent against petitioner on 14
petitioner was pressured to sign a Deed of Sale prepared by private respondent. Upon signing May 1988 before RTC-Branch 84. Private respondent alleges that petitioner obtained a loan
the Deed of Sale, he noticed that the Deed was already signed by a certain Cristina Gonzales as from her in the amount of P758,134.42 with a promise to pay on or before 30 August 1997. As
attorney-in-fact of vendor Spouses Guillermo and Amparo Galvez. Petitioner demanded from security for payment of the loan, petitioner executed a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage covering a
private respondent a special power of attorney and authority to sell, but the latter failed to parcel of land registered under TCT No. N-173163. Petitioner pleaded for additional time to pay
present one. Petitioner averred that private respondent refused to deliver the certificate of title of the said obligation, to which respondent agreed. But private respondent discovered sometime in
the land despite execution and signing of the Deed of Sale and payment of the February 1998 that petitioner executed an affidavit of loss alleging that he lost the owners
consideration. Petitioner was thus compelled to engage the services of one Modesto Gazmin, Jr. duplicate copy of TCT No. N-173163, and succeeded in annotating said affidavit on the original
who agreed, for P100,000.00 to facilitate the filing of cases against private respondent; to deliver copy of TCT No. N-173163 on file with the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City. Private respondent
to petitioner the certificate of title of the land; and/or to cancel the certificate of title in possession further alleges that she also discovered that petitioner filed a petition for issuance of a new
of private respondent. However, Mr. Gazmin, Jr., did nothing upon receipt of the amount owners duplicate copy of TCT No. N-173163 with the RTC of Quezon City, Branch 98, docketed
of P100,000.00 from petitioner. In fact, petitioner was even charged with perjury before the as LRC Case No. Q-10052. Private respondent demanded that petitioner pay his obligation, but
Office of the City Prosecutor, all because of Mr. Gazmin, Jr.s wrongdoing. Petitioner further the latter refused to do so. Resultantly, private respondent prayed for the following:
alleged that he discovered the existence of a spurious Real Estate Mortgage which he allegedly
signed in favor of private respondent. Petitioner categorically denied signing the mortgage
document and it was private respondent who falsified the same in order to justify her unlawful
withholding of TCT No. N-173163 from petitioner. Thus, petitioner prayed for:
A. That upon filing of this Complaint as well as the Affidavit of attachment and a
preliminary hearing thereon, as well as bond filed, a writ of preliminary attachment is (sic) by the
Honorable Court ordering the Sheriff to levy [herein petitioner] property sufficient to answer
[herein private respondents] claim in this action;
1. The cancellation of Real Estate Mortgage dated August 2, 1997 as null and void;

B. That after due notice and hearing, judgment be rendered in [private respondents]
2. As well as to order [herein private respondent] to DELIVER the Owners Duplicate Copy of favor as against [petitioner], ordering the latter to pay the former the sum of P758,134.42 plus
Transfer Certificate of Title No. N-173163 to [herein petitioner]; interest thereon at 5% per month from September 1997 up to the date of actual payment; actual
damages in the sums of P70,000.00 each under paragraphs 11 and 12 of the based but also that in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or
complaint; P200,000.00 as moral damages; P100,000.00 as exemplary damages; twenty (20%) innocence of the accused would necessarily be determined.
of the principal claim as attorneys fees plus P2,500.00 per appearance honorarium;
and P60,000.00 as litigation expense before this Honorable Court.

Thus, for a civil action to be considered prejudicial to a criminal case as to cause the suspension
of the criminal proceedings until the final resolution of the civil case, the following requisites must
[Petitioner] prays for such further relief in law, justice and equity. be present: (1) the civil case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal
prosecution would be based; (2) in the resolution of the issue or issues raised in the civil action,
the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be determined; and (3) jurisdiction to try
[29]
said question must be lodged in another tribunal.

As to whether it is proper to suspend Criminal Case No. 90721 for perjury pending final outcome
of Civil Case No. Q-98-34349 and Civil Case No. Q-98-34308, we take into If the resolution of the issue in the civil action will not determine the criminal responsibility of the
consideration Sections 6 and 7, Rule 111 of the Revised Rules of Court, which read: accused in the criminal action based on the same facts, or there is no necessity that the civil
case be determined first before taking up the criminal case, therefore, the civil case does not
[30]
involve a prejudicial question. Neither is there a prejudicial question if the civil and the criminal
[31]
action can, according to law, proceed independently of each other.

Sec. 6. Suspension by reason of prejudicial question. A petition for suspension of the criminal
action based upon the pendency of a prejudicial question in a civil action may be filed in the
office of the prosecutor or the court conducting the preliminary investigation. When the criminal
action has been filed in court for trial, the petition to suspend shall be filed in the same criminal However, the court in which an action is pending may, in the exercise of sound discretion, and
action at any time before the prosecution rests. upon proper application for a stay of that action, hold the action in abeyance to abide by the
outcome of another case pending in another court, especially where the parties and the issues
are the same, for there is power inherent in every court to control the disposition of cases on its
dockets with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants. Where the rights
of parties to the second action cannot be properly determined until the questions raised in the
[32]
Sec. 7. Elements of prejudicial question. The elements of a prejudicial question are: (a) the first action are settled, the second action should be stayed.
previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised
in the subsequent criminal action; and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not
the criminal action may proceed.
The power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court to control the
disposition of the cases on its dockets, considering its time and effort, those of counsel and the
litigants. But if proceedings must be stayed, it must be done in order to avoid multiplicity of suits
and prevent vexatious litigations, conflicting judgments, confusion between litigants and
courts. It bears stressing that whether or not the trial court would suspend the proceedings in
[33]
The rationale behind the principle of suspending a criminal case in view of a prejudicial question the criminal case before it is submitted to its sound discretion.
[27]
is to avoid two conflicting decisions.

Indeed, a judicial order issued pursuant to the courts discretionary authority is not subject to
A prejudial question is defined as that which arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical reversal on review unless it constitutes an abuse of discretion. As the United States Supreme
antecedent of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another Court aptly declared in Landis v. North American Co., the burden of making out the justice and
tribunal. The prejudicial question must be determinative of the case before the court but the wisdom from the departure from the beaten truck lay heavily on the petitioner, less an unwilling
jurisdiction to try and resolve the question must be lodged in another court or tribunal. It is litigant is compelled to wait upon the outcome of a controversy to which he is a stranger. It is,
a question based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with thus, stated that only in rare circumstances will a litigant in one case is compelled to stand aside,
it that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused.
[28] while a litigant in another, settling the rule of law that will define the rights of both is, after all, the
parties before the court are entitled to a just, speedy and plain determination of their case
undetermined by the pendency of the proceedings in another case. After all, procedure was
[34]
created not to hinder and delay but to facilitate and promote the administration of justice.

For a prejudicial question in a civil case to suspend criminal action, it must appear not only that
said case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the criminal prosecution would be
As stated, the determination of whether the proceedings may be suspended on the basis of a
prejudicial question rests on whether the facts and issues raised in the pleadings in the civil
cases are so related with the issues raised in the criminal case such that the resolution of the
issues in the civil cases would also determine the judgment in the criminal case.

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

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

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

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

SO ORDERED
[G. R. No. 153666. December 27, 2002] SRI learned that in the interim, five families of squatters had already occupied portions of the
reclaimed area; and that more squatters were due to arrive.
DIONISIO L. TORRES and ENRICO M. ALVAREZ, petitioners, vs. HON. FRANCIS F.
[8]
GARCHITORENA, HON. CATALINO R. CASTANEDA and HON. GREGORY S. ONG (in their On January 7, 1998, SRI filed a petition with the Regional Trial Court for prohibition with a plea
capacities as Chairman and Members, respectively of the First Division of the for injunctive relief against the Mayor, the Municipal Building Official and Municipal Engineer
Sandiganbayan) SUSANA REALTY, INC. and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. Enrico Alvarez to enjoin them from reclaiming and leveling the property and for damages and
attorneys fees. The case was docketed as Special Civil Case No. N-6639. In their Answer to the
DECISION petition, Torres and Alvarez alleged inter alia that they were not aware that the subject property
was titled in the name of SRI and that the records of the Assessors Office failed to show that the
property had been declared for taxation purposes under the name of SRI. The Mayor insisted
CALLEJO, SR., J.: [9]
that SRI abandoned the property and justified his acts on the ground that the reclamation of
the property was for the socialized housing program of his constituents.
Before the Court is a petition for certiorari with a plea for preliminary injunction or temporary
restraining order under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, filed with the On April 16, 1998, SRI filed with the Ombudsman a criminal complaint against Torres and
Court on June 11, 2002 for the nullification of the following resolutions of the Sandiganbayan, to Alvarez for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 (the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
wit: Act). After due preliminary investigation, the Ombudsman found probable cause against the two
for violation of said law. He filed with the Sandiganbayan an Information dated August 27, 1998
1. Resolution dated January 7, 2002 denying petitioners omnibus motion to quash the for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 which reads:
Information and/or to suspend trial (with opposition to motion to suspend accused pendete lite)
[1]
in SB Criminal Case No. 24864; Undersigned Graft Investigation Officer II of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon,
hereby accuses MAYOR DIONISIO TORRES and MUNICIPAL ENGINEER ENRICO M.
2. Resolution dated March 20, 2002 preventively suspending petitioners for a maximum of ninety ALVAREZ, of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
[2]
(90) days; Corrupt Practices Act, as amended, committed as follows:

3. Resolution dated April 4, 2002 denying petitioners motion for reconsideration of the January 7, That on or about October 10, 1997, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in the Municipality
[3]
2002 Resolution; and of Noveleta, Province of Cavite, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court,
above-named accused DIONISIO TORRES and ENRICO M. ALVAREZ, public officers being
4. Resolution dated May 22, 2002 denying petitioners motion for reconsideration of the April 4, then the Municipal Mayor and Municipal Engineer, respectively of Noveleta, Cavite, committing
[4] the crime herein charged in relation to and taking advantage of their official functions and
2002 Resolution.
through evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence, did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously cause the filling up of a submerged portion of a lot owned by and
The antecedent facts are as follows:
registered in the name of Susana Realty Corp., without first verifying the existence of its owner
and despite showing proof of its ownership, with the intention to reclaim it for the municipalitys
Susana Realty, Incorporated (SRI for brevity) is the registered owner of two (2) parcels of land housing program to the damage and prejudice of the registered owner as squatters now occupy
located at Noveleta, Cavite, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. (T-5344) RT- the area.
[5] [6]
19732 and (T-5345) RT-19733 issued on May 15, 1952. The said titles cancelled Original
Certificate of Title Nos. 2320 and 137 in 1934 and 1911, respectively. These parcels of land are [10]
CONTRARY TO LAW.
adjacent to the sea and over time portions thereof were submerged by sea water. SRI installed
Domingo Fernandez as its caretaker on the property.
The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 24864.
On October 10, 1997, Mayor Dionisio Torres of Noveleta, Cavite caused the leveling and
reclamation of the submerged portion of SRIs property for the relocation of displaced squatters On September 1, 1998, the Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor General, filed with
from Tirona, Cavite who were living along river banks and esteros. Domingo Fernandez the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cavite City a complaint against SRI and the Register of Deeds
protested to the Mayor informing him that his employer owned the property being levelled and of Cavite for the reversion of the property covered by Transfer Certificate of Title Nos. 5344 and
reclaimed at the instance of the Mayor. However, the latter ignored the protests of Fernandez 5345 issued in favor of SRI. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 7160. The Republic
and continued with the leveling and reclamation of the property. On October 16, 1997, alleged inter alia that said property had been ascertained by the Department of Environment and
representatives of SRI conferred with the Mayor and furnished him with copies of its titles over Natural Resources (DENR) as part of the Manila Bay per Classification Map 2736 dated
the property. The SRI had the property surveyed to confirm that the portions of the land February 21, 1972. Hence, it formed part of the inalienable mass of the public domain owned by
reclaimed by the Mayor were within the perimeter of its titled property. On October 27, 1997, SRI the State. The Republic prayed that after due proceedings judgment be rendered in its favor,
[7] thus:
sent a letter to the Mayor formally protesting the leveling and reclamation of the submerged
portion of its property and demanding that the Mayor desist from continuing with said
reclamation. On October 31, 1997, the Mayor and representatives of SRI had a conference WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that, after trial, this Honorable Court render judgment:
during which the Mayor informed SRI that he had already spent P1,000.000,00 for the
reclamation and offered to help SRI in connection with its other projects in Cavite provided that 1. Declaring the reversion of the subject parcels of land into mass of inalienable public domain;
SRI will no longer file the suit to enjoin the reclamation. SRI requested for the deferment of the
reclamation project until November 7, 1997 to enable it to study the offer of the Mayor. However,
2. Ordering the Register of Deeds to cancel any existing title over the said properties;
3. Enjoining the Register of Deeds from issuing any title over the subject properties. OF VIOLATING SEC. 3(E) OF THE ANTI-GRAFT AND CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (R.A.
3019).
[11]
Such other reliefs just and equitable under the premises are likewise prayed for.
B. THE PUBLIC RESPONDENTS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
In the meantime, negotiations for an amicable settlement ensued. Torres wrote a letter to SRI AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN DENYING PETITIONERS
dated March 3, 1999 offering to acquire a portion of the reclaimed area with an area of 350 MOTION TO SUSPEND FURTHER PROCEEDINGS DESPITE SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE
square meters at the price of P100.00 per square meter, excluding the 260-square meter portion SHOWING THAT ALL THE ELEMENTS FOR A PREJUDICIAL QUESTION ARE PRESENT IN
of the property developed as a road right of way, without prejudice to the outcome of the THIS CASE.
[12]
prohibition case filed by SRI. However, no settlement materialized between the parties. Torres
and Alvarez filed with the Office of the Ombudsman a motion for reinvestigation of Criminal Case C. THE PUBLIC RESPONDENTS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
No. 24864 but the Ombudsman issued a Resolution dated January 5, 2001 denying said AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN RULING THAT THE DEFENSES
motion. Earlier, Torres and Alvarez filed with the Sandiganbayan a motion dated December 23, RAISED BY THE PETITIONERS ARE EVIDENTIARY MATTERS THAT SHOULD BE
2000 for the suspension of the proceedings in said criminal case on the ground of the existence PROPERLY RAISED DURING THE TRIAL PROPER DESPITE SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE TO
of a prejudicial question in Civil Case No. 7160. On January 15, 2001, the Sandiganbayan THE CONTRARY.
issued a Resolution denying the motion for suspension of the proceedings. Upon receipt of said
resolution, Torres and Alvarez filed with the Sandiganbayan a motion for a reconsideration D. THE PUBLIC RESPONDENTS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
thereof. However, on March 9, 2001, the Sandiganbayan issued a resolution denying their AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN GRANTING THE
motion for reconsideration. PROSECUTIONS REQUEST FOR THE SUSPENSION PENDENTE LITE OF THE
PETITIONERS DESPITE SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT THERE IS NO
[16]
Torres and Alvarez forthwith filed a petition for certiorari on April 25, 2001 with this Court for the SUFFICIENT BASIS, IN FACT AND IN LAW, FOR SUCH SUSPENSION.
nullification of the March 9, 2001 Resolution of the Sandiganbayan. The case was docketed as
G.R. No. 147726. On May 16, 2001, the Court issued a Resolution dismissing the petition for Petitioners aver that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
certiorari. On June 1, 2001, Torres and Alvarez filed with the Sandiganbayan another motion to or excess of jurisdiction in denying their motion to quash the information on their claim that the
suspend the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 24864 on the ground of the existence of a material averments contained therein do not constitute the offense of violation of Section 3(e) of
prejudicial question, namely, the pendency of Civil Case No. 7160, but the court denied said Republic Act 3019. They insist that the information specifically alleges that the submerged
motion in open court on August 1, 2001. The Sandiganbayan proceeded with the arraignment of portion of private respondents titled property is actually part of the foreshore area of Noveleta,
Torres and Alvarez. Both entered a plea of not guilty. Cavite as alleged in the complaint for reversion of the Republic of the Philippines in Civil Case
No. 7160 filed with the RTC against respondent SRI. The Republics claim in said civil case is
The prosecution in Criminal Case No. 24864 filed a motion with the Sandiganbayan for the based on the Verification of Status of Land issued by the DENR stating that the property forms
mandatory suspension pendente lite of Torres and Alvarez. On September 13, 2001, the two part of the public domain. Petitioners likewise argue that even if inceptually, the submerged
filed an omnibus motion for the quashal of the information on the ground that the facts alleged portion was indeed SRIs property, the same became part of the shore and of the public domain,
therein do not constitute the offense of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 and hence, there as a consequence of its invasion by the sea. This natural phenomenon is a de facto case of
was no legal basis for their suspension from office pendente lite. They further prayed that should eminent domain and not subject to indemnity. Petitioners further contend that since the material
their motion to quash the information be denied, the criminal proceedings be suspended on the allegations in the information do not constitute the offense of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A.
ground of the existence of a prejudicial question in Civil Case No. 7160. Torres and Alvarez 3019, there is no legal basis for their suspension from office pendente lite.Moreover, since SRI is
claimed that the issue in Civil Case No. 7160 for reversion filed by the State constituted a not the owner of the submerged portion of its titled property, it has no proprietary interest over
prejudicial question under Sections 6 and 7, Rule 111 of the Rules of Criminal Procedures, as the same and hence cannot be deemed to have sustained any damage or injury by reason of
[13]
amended, warranting the suspension of the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 24864. The the reclamation of subject property an element of the crime penalized by Section 3(e) of R.A.
prosecution opposed the omnibus motion of Torres and Alvarez. On January 7, 2002, the 3019.
Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution denying the motion to quash filed by Torres and
[14]
Alvarez. The latter filed a motion for reconsideration of said resolution dated January 27, 2002 For its part, the Sandiganbayan ruled under its assailed Resolutions that the precise nature of
[15]
but the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution dated April 21, 2002 denying said motion. the subject property is a factual issue which should properly be ventilated during trial of the
criminal case on its merits; hence, a motion to quash the information on the ground that the
Earlier, the Court issued a Resolution dated March 20, 2002 granting the motion of the material averments thereof do not constitute a violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019 is
prosecution for the suspension of Torres and Alvarez pendente lite. Torres and Alvarez filed a improper. Furthermore, the petitioners had already been arraigned before they filed their motion
motion for the reconsideration of the March 20, 2002 resolution. On May 22, 2002, the Court to quash. Thus, the quashal of the information could no longer be made.
issued a Resolution denying the motion of Torres and Alvarez.
SRI on the other hand insists that the submerged area forms part of its private property, and that
Hence, this petition. petitioner Torres is estopped from claiming that said area is foreshore land because in his letter
to SRI dated March 3, 1999, Torres offered to buy a portion of the submerged area, thus
Torres and Alvarez (petitioners, for brevity) allege that: implicitly recognizing that said area belongs to SRI.

A. THE PUBLIC RESPONDENTS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION The contention of petitioners has no merit.
AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN DENYING PETITIONERS
MOTION TO QUASH THE INFORMATION DESPITE SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE SHOWING Case law has it that a resolution of the Sandiganbayan denying a motion to quash the
THAT THERE IS NO SUFFICIENT BASIS, IN FACT AND IN LAW, TO CHARGE PETITIONERS information is an interlocutory order and hence, not appealable. Nor can it be the subject of
certiorari. The remedy available to petitioners after their motion to quash was denied by the a fair and adequate opportunity to challenge the validity of the criminal proceedings against him
Sandiganbayan was to proceed with the trial of the case, without prejudice to their right to raise (People vs. Albano, et al. 163 SCRA 511) and this requirement has been complied with when
[17]
the question on appeal if final judgment is rendered against them. Moreover, the petitioners the accused was heard on the matter through various pleadings as heretofore stated. The
failed to prove that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or pronouncement of the Supreme Court in the case of Albano is clear on this point, thus:
excess of jurisdiction in denying the motion to quash.
Considering the mandatory suspension of the accused under a valid information, the law does
Fundamental is the rule that a criminal complaint or information must state every single fact not contemplate a proceeding to determine (1) the strength of the evidence of culpability against
necessary to constitute the offense charged; otherwise, the information or complaint may be him, (2) the gravity of the offense charged, or (3) whether or not his continuance in office could
quashed on the ground that it charges no offense. If an accused files a motion to quash an influence the witnesses or pose a threat to the safety and integrity of the records and other
information on this ground, he thereby hypothetically admits the truth of the averments evidence, so that a court can have a valid basis in evaluating the advisability of his suspension
therein.The test in resolving a motion to quash on the ground that the information charges no pending the trial proper of the case filed against him. Besides, a requirement that the guilt of the
offense is whether the material facts alleged in the complaint or information will establish the accused must first be established in the pre-suspension proceeding before trial proper can
[18]
essential elements of the offense charged as defined in the law. The trial court may not proceed would negate the ruling of the court that the xxx mandatory suspension .... requires at
consider a situation contrary to that set forth in the criminal complaint or information. Facts which the same time that the hearing be expeditious, and not unduly protracted such as to thwart the
[20]
constitute the defense of the petitioners against the charge under the information must be prompt suspension envisioned by the Act and make the trial proper a surplusage. xxx.
proved by them during trial. Such facts or circumstances do not constitute proper grounds for a
motion to quash the information on the ground that the material averments do not constitute the Likewise untenable is the contention of the accused that should they be suspended, the people
offense. Although the court may consider facts or circumstances extraneous to the information of the Municipality of Noveleta, Cavite would be deprived of the services of the man they elected
or complaint if admitted by the prosecution or not denied by it, this rule does not apply because as Municipal Mayor and their Municipal Engineer. To begin with, nobody is indispensable in a
in this case, the prosecution even opposed the motion to quash of the petitioners, insisting that public office. There will always be other persons who can be appointed to the temporarily
contrary to the latters claim, the disputed area is private property covered by titles issued in the vacated offices and the law has seen to that in many instances with due regard to the situation
name of SRI. cited by the accused therein.

Under the information, the disputed area is alleged to be the submerged portion of the lot owned The Supreme Court in the case of Bunye vs. Escareal, 226 SCRA 332, upheld the order of
by SRI. Thus, in resolving the motion to quash on the ground that the allegations in the suspension issued against the accused and disposed of this issue in this wise:
information do not constitute an offense, said factual allegations must be hypothetically admitted,
and the subject property under the information must be considered private property of SRI.
The fear of the petitioners that the municipal government of Muntinlupa will be paralyzed for
ninety (90) days when they (petitioners) are preventively suspended is remote. There will still
The barefaced fact that under the information, the subject property is alleged to be submerged in remain eight (8) councilors who can meet as the Sangguniang Bayan. The President or his alter
sea water does not necessarily make the said property foreshore land and hence part of the ego, the Secretary of Interior and Local Government, will surely know how to deal with the
public domain that can be reclaimed by the Municipality of Noveleta, Cavite. problem of filling up the temporary vacant positions of mayor, vice-mayor and six councilors in
[21]
accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Code, Republic Act No. 7160. xxx
[19]
In People vs. Melitona Alagad, et al., we held that submerged land is not necessarily
foreshore land. Where the rise in water level is due to ordinary action of nature, rainfall for We are in full accord with the disquisitions and ratiocinations of the Sandiganbayan. The
instance, the portions inundated thereby are not considered part of the bed or basin of the body suspension pendente lite by the Sandiganbayan of petitioners who were accorded full
of water in question. Said portions are outside of public domain and hence, capable of opportunity to ventilate the issue of the insufficiency of the information for said court, through the
registration as private property. We defined foreshore land in said case as part of the land which filing of pleadings, is inevitable and unassailable, considering our affirmation of the validity of the
is between the high and low water and left dry by the flux and reflux of the tides. If the information filed against them.
submergence of the land is due to precipitation, it does not become a foreshore land despite its
proximity to the waters. The issue of whether the submerged property is foreshore land or not is
an issue of fact, which can be resolved by the Sandiganbayan only after trial. But for the present, On the last issue, petitioners contend that it behooved the Sandiganbayan to have suspended
the submerged portion is titled to SRI. Until the subject property is declared foreshore land by a the proceedings pending final judgment in Civil Case No. 7160 by the RTC on their claim that
competent court in an appropriate proceeding and the title of SRI over said property is declared the issue of ownership over the property subject is so intimately related to the issues raised in
null and void, the subject property remains the private property of SRI, and the latter is entitled to the civil case and is determinative of their guilt or innocence of the crime charged in Criminal
the possession thereof. Case No. 24864. A judgment of the RTC in Civil Case No. 7160 that the property subject of the
charge before the Sandiganbayan is foreshore land will belie its claim that its proprietary right
over the subject property had been violated by petitioners when they had the subject property
Petitioners contend that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion in ordering reclaimed; hence, SRI cannot claim that it sustained damages or injury, an essential element of
their suspension from office pendente lite without the conduct of a full-blown hearing. By so the crime defined in Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019. The Sandiganbayan, for its part, held
doing, the petitioners argue, the people of Noveleta, Cavite were deprived of the services of the that:
petitioners as the duly elected Mayor and appointed Municipal Engineer. The Sandiganbayan for
its part ruled on petitioners contentions, thus:
Regardless of whether or not the Republic wins the suit for reversion of the property subject of
the action herein, to the State, and until the reversion itself is ordered the present registered
Finally, as to the submission of the accused that a full-blown pre-suspension hearing be first owner of the property (Susana Realty) has rights flowing from ownership and possession which
conducted before the resolution of the motion to suspend accused, suffice it to state that the public officers have a duty to respect and protect.
requisite pre-suspension hearing is precisely intended solely to determine the applicability of
Section 13, of R.A. 3019, and this we now do. What is required only is that the accused be given
The pendency of the reversion case, CA. G.R. SP No. 54494 before the Court of Appeals action has been filed in court for trial, the petition to suspend shall be filed in court for trial, d
entitled Republic vs. Susana Realty, et al. is of no moment to these proceedings since this does shall be filed in the same criminal action at any time before the prosecution rests.
not diminish the rights and obligation with regard to the property at the time of the incident in
[22]
question. Sec. 7. Elements of prejudicial question. - The elements of a prejudicial question are: (a) the
previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised
The Sandiganbayan further pointed out that petitioners first filed a motion to suspend in the subsequent criminal action, and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not
proceedings on December 3, 2000 and that the same was denied per its Resolution dated the criminal action may proceed.
January 15, 2001. The petitioners filed a second motion to suspend proceedings dated June 11,
2001, which motion was denied in open court on August 1, 2001 after which, petitioners were Under the amendment, a prejudicial question is understood in law as that which must precede
duly arraigned. Petitioners again prayed in their omnibus motion for the suspension of the the criminal action and which requires a decision before a final judgment can be rendered in the
proceedings, which motion was in effect a second motion for reconsideration of the Resolution of [28]
criminal action with which said question is closely connected. The civil action must be
the Sandiganbayan dated January 7, 2002 without leave of court. In its exasperation, the instituted prior to the institution of the criminal action. In this case, the Information was filed with
Sandiganbayan declared that the record is replete with efforts of the accused to delay the the Sandiganbayan ahead of the complaint in Civil Case No. 7160 filed by the State with the
[23]
proceedings herein. No more. There is nothing to reconsider. RTC in Civil Case No. 7160. Thus, no prejudicial question exists.

SRI contends that the action for reversion filed by the State in Civil Case No. 7160 does not Besides, a final judgment of the RTC in Civil Case No. 7160 declaring the property as foreshore
constitute a prejudicial question to the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan under Section 7, land and hence, inalienable, is not determinative of the guilt or innocence of the petitioners in the
Rule 111 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure because the said action was criminal case. It bears stressing that unless and until declared null and void by a court of
filed after the institution of the criminal action before the Respondent SB and because: [29]
competent jurisdiction in an appropriate action therefor, the titles of SRI over the subject
[30]
property are valid. SRI is entitled to the possession of the properties covered by said titles. It
Even assuming the contrary were true, petitioners cannot still escape cannot be illegally deprived of its possession of the property by petitioners in the guise of a
culpability. Notwithstanding the action for reversion, the fact remains that Susana Realty is the reclamation until final judgment is rendered declaring the property covered by said titles as
owner of the subject properties at the time petitioners committed the acts complained of. The foreshore land.
fact remains that Susana Realty was thereby injured by their acts. The action for reversion will
not obliterate such fact. There is no necessity therefore to await the outcome of the reversion IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The Resolutions of the
[24]
suit before the criminal charges against petitioners should proceed. Sandiganbayan subject of the petition are AFFIRMED.

We agree with the Respondents. Under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedures, as SO ORDERED.
amended, petitioners must show that they had no plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the
[25]
ordinary course of law against their perceived grievance. Petitioners are not entitled to a writ
of certiorari if they seek said relief to make up for the loss, through their oversight or omission, of
their right to file their petition for certiorari within the period therefor. The record shows that
petitioners motion to suspend proceedings had already been denied by the Sandiganbayan on
January 15, 2001. Petitioners motion to suspend proceedings dated June 11, 2002, which was
for all intents and purposes a motion for reconsideration of the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan
dated January 15, 2001, was denied by Sandiganbayan on August 1, 2001. However,
petitioners did not file a petition for certiorari with the Court within the period therefor. Indeed,
petitioners filed an omnibus motion with leave of court on September 13, 2001, praying inter
alia for the suspension of the proceedings. The omnibus motion was denied by the respondent
court on April 4, 2002. It was only on June 11, 2002 that petitioners filed the petition at bench. By
then, the period for them to file the same had long lapsed. Why the petitioners waited for almost
a year from August 1, 2001 to file their petition for certiorari with the Court they did not bother to
justify. It bears stressing that the rule on prejudicial questions was conceived to afford parties an
[26]
expeditious and just disposition of cases. Indeed, the amendment under the Rules on Criminal
Procedure was designed to avert the deleterious practice foisted on the judicial system by
unscrupulous parties to derail the placid flow of criminal cases. The Court has said that it will not
[27]
countenance the misuse of the rules of procedures to frustrate or delay the delivery of justice.

Even if we ignored petitioners procedural lapse and resolved their petition on the merits, we hold
that Sandiganbayan did not abuse its discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in
denying their omnibus motion for the suspension of the proceedings pending final judgment in
Civil Case No. 7160. Section 6, Rule lll of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, reads:

Sec. 6. Suspension by reason of prejudicial question. - A petition for suspension of the criminal
action based upon the pendency of a prejudicial question in a civil action may be filed in the
office of the prosecutor or the court conducting the preliminary investigation. When the criminal
JOSELITO R. PIMENTEL, G.R. No. 172060 Q-04-130415, before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, which was raffled to Branch 223
(RTC Quezon City).
Petitioner,

Present:
On 7 February 2005, petitioner received summons to appear before the Regional Trial Court of
Antipolo City, Branch 72 (RTC Antipolo) for the pre-trial and trial of Civil Case No. 04-7392
(Maria Chrysantine Lorenza L. Pimentel v. Joselito Pimentel) for Declaration of Nullity of
Marriage under Section 36 of the Family Code on the ground of psychological incapacity.
CARPIO, J., Chairperson,

- versus - PERALTA,

* On 11 February 2005, petitioner filed an urgent motion to suspend the proceedings before the
BERSAMIN, RTC Quezon City on the ground of the existence of a prejudicial question.Petitioner asserted
that since the relationship between the offender and the victim is a key element in parricide, the
ABAD, and outcome of Civil Case No. 04-7392 would have a bearing in the criminal case filed against him
before the RTC Quezon City.
**
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.

MARIA CHRYSANTINE
The Decision of the Trial Court
L. PIMENTEL and PEOPLE Promulgated:

OF THE PHILIPPINES,
[3]
The RTC Quezon City issued an Order dated 13 May 2005 holding that the pendency of the
Respondents. September 13, 2010 case before the RTC Antipolo is not a prejudicial question that warrants the suspension of the
criminal case before it. The RTC Quezon City held that the issues in Criminal Case No. Q-04-
130415 are the injuries sustained by respondent and whether the case could be tried even if the
DECISION
validity of petitioners marriage with respondent is in question. The RTC Quezon City ruled:

CARPIO, J.:

WHEREFORE, on the basis of the foregoing, the Motion to Suspend Proceedings On the
[Ground] of the Existence of a Prejudicial Question is, for lack of merit, DENIED.
The Case

[4]
[1] [2]
SO ORDERED.
Before the Court is a petition for review assailing the Decision of the Court of Appeals,
promulgated on 20 March 2006, in CA-G.R. SP No. 91867.

[5]
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. In its 22 August 2005 Order, the RTC Quezon City
denied the motion.
The Antecedent Facts

Petitioner filed a petition for certiorari with application for a writ of preliminary injunction and/or
The facts are stated in the Court of Appeals decision: temporary restraining order before the Court of Appeals, assailing the 13 May 2005 and 22
August 2005 Orders of the RTC Quezon City.
On 25 October 2004, Maria Chrysantine Pimentel y Lacap (private respondent) filed an action
for frustrated parricide against Joselito R. Pimentel (petitioner), docketed as Criminal Case No.
The Decision of the Court of Appeals in the subsequent criminal action and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether or not
the criminal action may proceed.

In its 20 March 2006 Decision, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition. The Court of Appeals
ruled that in the criminal case for frustrated parricide, the issue is whether the offender The rule is clear that the civil action must be instituted first before the filing of the criminal
[7]
commenced the commission of the crime of parricide directly by overt acts and did not perform action. In this case, the Information for Frustrated Parricide was dated 30 August 2004. It was
all the acts of execution by reason of some cause or accident other than his own spontaneous raffled to RTC Quezon City on 25 October 2004 as per the stamped date of receipt on the
desistance. On the other hand, the issue in the civil action for annulment of marriage is whether Information. The RTC Quezon City set Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415 for pre-trial and trial on
petitioner is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations. The 14 February 2005. Petitioner was served summons in Civil Case No. 04-7392 on 7 February
[8] [9]
Court of Appeals ruled that even if the marriage between petitioner and respondent would be 2005. Respondents petition in Civil Case No. 04-7392 was dated 4 November 2004 and was
declared void, it would be immaterial to the criminal case because prior to the declaration of filed on 5 November 2004. Clearly, the civil case for annulment was filed after the filing of the
nullity, the alleged acts constituting the crime of frustrated parricide had already been criminal case for frustrated parricide. As such, the requirement of Section 7, Rule 111 of the
committed. The Court of Appeals ruled that all that is required for the charge of frustrated 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure was not met since the civil action was filed subsequent to the
parricide is that at the time of the commission of the crime, the marriage is still subsisting. filing of the criminal action.

Petitioner filed a petition for review before this Court assailing the Court of Appeals decision. Annulment of Marriage is not a Prejudicial Question

in Criminal Case for Parricide

The Issue

Further, the resolution of the civil action is not a prejudicial question that would warrant the
suspension of the criminal action.
The only issue in this case is whether the resolution of the action for annulment of marriage is a
prejudicial question that warrants the suspension of the criminal case for frustrated parricide
against petitioner.
There is a prejudicial question when a civil action and a criminal action are both pending, and
there exists in the civil action an issue which must be preemptively resolved before the criminal
action may proceed because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be
[10]
The Ruling of this Court determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case. A prejudicial
question is defined as:

The petition has no merit.


x x x one that arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the issue
involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal. It is a question based
on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with it that it
determines the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it to suspend the criminal action, it
Civil Case Must be Instituted must appear not only that said case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the
criminal prosecution would be based but also that in the resolution of the issue or issues raised
[11]
Before the Criminal Case in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be determined.

Section 7, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure


[6]
provides: The relationship between the offender and the victim is a key element in the crime of
[12]
parricide, which punishes any person who shall kill his father, mother, or child, whether
[13]
legitimate or illegitimate, or any of his ascendants or descendants, or his spouse. The
relationship between the offender and the victim distinguishes the crime of parricide from
[14] [15]
murder or homicide. However, the issue in the annulment of marriage is not similar or
Section 7. Elements of Prejudicial Question. - The elements of a prejudicial question are: (a) the intimately related to the issue in the criminal case for parricide. Further, the relationship between
previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised the offender and the victim is not determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused.
The issue in the civil case for annulment of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code is
whether petitioner is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital
obligations. The issue in parricide is whether the accused killed the victim. In this case, since
petitioner was charged with frustrated parricide, the issue is whether he performed all the acts of
execution which would have killed respondent as a consequence but which, nevertheless, did
[16]
not produce it by reason of causes independent of petitioners will. At the time of the
commission of the alleged crime, petitioner and respondent were married. The subsequent
dissolution of their marriage, in case the petition in Civil Case No. 04-7392 is granted, will have
no effect on the alleged crime that was committed at the time of the subsistence of the
marriage. In short, even if the marriage between petitioner and respondent is annulled, petitioner
could still be held criminally liable since at the time of the commission of the alleged crime, he
was still married to respondent.

[17]
We cannot accept petitioners reliance on Tenebro v. Court of Appeals that the judicial
declaration of the nullity of a marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity retroacts to the
date of the celebration of the marriage insofar as the vinculum between the spouses is
concerned x x x. First, the issue in Tenebro is the effect of the judicial declaration of nullity of a
second or subsequent marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity on a criminal liability
for bigamy. There was no issue of prejudicial question in that case. Second, the Court ruled
in Tenebro that [t]here is x x x a recognition written into the law itself that such a marriage,
[18]
although void ab initio, may still produce legal consequences. In fact, the Court declared in
that case that a declaration of the nullity of the second marriage on the ground of psychological
[19]
incapacity is of absolutely no moment insofar as the States penal laws are concerned.

In view of the foregoing, the Court upholds the decision of the Court of Appeals. The trial
in Criminal Case No. Q-04-130415 may proceed as the resolution of the issue in Civil Case No.
04-7392 is not determinative of the guilt or innocence of petitioner in the criminal case.

WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the 20 March 2006 Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91867.

SO ORDERED.