Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 8

PREJUDICIAL QUESTION

- Is understood in law to be that which arises in case the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the
issue involved in the criminal case and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal.
- It is determinative of the criminal case, but the jurisdiction to try and resolve it is lodged in another
tribunal. It is based on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but is so intimately connected with the
crime that it determines the guilt or innocence of the accused.

WHEN DOES IT EXIST:

- When a civil action and a criminal action are both pending, and there exists, in the former case, an issue
which must be preemptively resolved before the latter case may proceed.

REASON / PURPOSE:

- To avoid two conflicting decisions in the civil case and in the criminal case.

It is necessary that one is criminal and one is civil.

No prejudicial question if the criminal case is instituted prior to the civil case. Thus, the order must be, a
civil case is filed first then a criminal case.
Likewise, no PQ if the criminal information was filed ahead of the complaint in the civil case.

Take note of the word “previously” instituted civil action.

FORMULA: PREVIOUSLY INSTITUTED CIVIL ACTION followed by SUBSEQUENT CRIMINAL


ACTION.

The PQ arose in the civil case and not in the criminal case.

NOTE: It is the issue in the civil case that needs to be resolved first before it is determined on whether or
not the criminal case should proceed or whether or not there should be a judgment of acquittal or
conviction in the criminal case.

It is critical and essential to show that the issue in the civil case is determinative of the issue in the criminal
case. Thus, not all issues raised to be as ‘prejudicial question’ means it is already one.

Although the rule does not set the parameters of what constitutes “determinative”, nevertheless, one
consequence appears to be quite clear, that is,

a. If the resolution of the issue in the civil action will not determine the criminal responsibility of the
accused in the criminal action based on the same facts, the civil case does not involve a prejudicial
question.
b. No PQ if the civil and criminal action can proceed independently of each other, that is the criminal
action can proceed without waiting for the resolution of the issues in the civil case.

SECTION 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 action at
any time before the prosecution rests.
 Filing of a petition before the suspension of the criminal action is REQUIRED. Thus, motu proprio
suspension by the court of the criminal action is not allowed.
 Petition to suspend can be filed only in the criminal action.
 The determination of the pendency of the PQ should be made at the first instance in the criminal action
and not before the SC in an appeal from the civil action
 What is to be suspended is the criminal action and not the civil action, but suspension does not include
dismissal. (Yap v. Paras)
 When there is a determination that a PQ exists, the criminal case may be suspended pending the final
determination of the issues in the civil case.
 PQ, therefore, is technically in the nature of an exception to the rule that the civil action shall be suspended
when the criminal action is instituted. (Sec 2 of Rule 111)
 It is only when the petition for suspension is granted will the suspension follow.

WHERE TO FILE PETITION FOR SUSPENSION

1. It is not necessary that the petition for suspension be filed in the court. It is sufficient that the case be in
the preliminary investigation stage provided there is a previously instituted civil case.
2. In the office of the prosecutor conducting the PI. When the criminal action has been filed in court for trial,
it shall be filed in the same criminal action at anytime before the prosecution rests.

SECTION 7. Elements of prejudicial question.

The elements of 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.

WHEN AN ADMINISTRATIVE CASE IS DEEMED AS A CIVIL CASE:

G.R.: Civil – Criminal


Exception: case of san Miguel properties v. Perez which, “deemed still as filed by an administrative body but
civil in nature, ruling that an action for specific performance, even if pending with an administrative agency,
raises a prejudicial question.”

An independent civil action or ICA does not operate as a prejudicial question because it proceeds independently
of the criminal action, because the result of the ICA is irrelevant to the issue of guilt or innocence of the accused.
CASES:

1. Dreamwork v. Janiola, G.R. No. 184861, 591 SCRA 466

FACTS: This case is a petition for the reversal of the decision on the suspension of the criminal proceeding filed
by the petitioner in the MTC for the ground that there is a presence of prejudicial question with respect to the civil
case belatedly filed by the respondent. The petitioner appealed to RTC but denied Dreamwork, through its
President, and Vice-President, filed a Complaint Affidavit against Janiola for violation of BP 22 at the Office of
the City Prosecutor of Las Piñas City. Correspondingly, the former also filed a criminal information for violation
of BP 22 against private respondent with the MTC, entitled People of the Philippines v. Cleofe S. Janiola. On
September 20, 2006, Janiola instituted a civil complaint against petitioner for the rescission of an alleged
construction agreement between the parties, as well as for damages. Thereafter, respondent filed a Motion to
Suspend Proceedings in the Criminal Case for the ground that private respondent claim that the civil case posed
a prejudicial questionagainst the criminal case. Petitioner opposed the Respondent’s Motion to Suspend criminal
proceeding based on juridical question for the following grounds:

(1) there is no prejudicial question in this case as the rescission of the contract upon which the bouncing checks
were issued is a separate and distinct issue from the issue of whether private respondent violated BP 22; and

(2) Section 7, Rule 111 of the Rules of Court states that one of the elements of a prejudicial question is that “the
previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised in the subsequent
criminal action”; thus, this element is missing in this case, the criminal case having preceded the civil case.

The MTC granted the Respondents Motion to Suspend Proceedings. Petitioner appealed the Orders to the RTC
but denied the petition. Hence, this petition raised.

ISSUE: Whether or not the MTC or RTC Court erred in its discretion to suspend proceedings in Criminal Case
on the basis of “Prejudicial Question “, with respect to the Civil Case belatedly filed.

RULING: This petition must be granted, pursuant to 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. Under the amendment, a prejudicial question is understood in law as that
which must precede the criminal action and which requires a decision before a final judgment can be rendered in
the criminal action. The civil action must be instituted prior to the institution of the criminal action. In this case,
the Information was filed with the Sandiganbayan ahead of the complaint in Civil Case filed by the State with
the RTC. Thus, no prejudicial question exists. The Resolution of the Civil Case Is Not Determinative of the
Prosecution of the Criminal Action. Even if the trial court in the civil case declares that the construction agreement
between the parties is void for lack of consideration, this would not affect the prosecution of private respondent
in the criminal case. The fact of the matter is that private respondent issued checks that were subsequently
dishonored for insufficient funds. It is this fact that is subject of prosecution under BP 22.Therefore, it is clear
that the second element required for the existence of a prejudicial question, is absent. Thus, no prejudicial
question exists.

2. First Producers Holding Corp. v. Co, 139655, 2000, 336 551

FACTS: Armand M. Luna filed a criminal complaint for estafa and perjury against respondent Luis L. Co in the
Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila because accordingly in the regular meeting of the Board of Directors of
the Producers Bank of the Philippines, a resolution was adopted authorizing the corporation to purchase three (3)
proprietary shares of Manila Polo Club to be placed in the names of Co Bun Chun, Henry Co and Luis Co to be
held by them on behalf of the corporation, thus the corporation purchased said proprietary shares in the name of
the nominees, one of which was placed in the name of Mr. Luis L. Co. Later on, after the separation from the
service of Mr. Luis L. Co, Ms. Amelita F. Bautista demanded from him the transfer of the subject certificate in
the name of the corporation. Despite his duty to assign the certificate back to the corporation and the subject
demand, Mr. LUIS L. CO, instead registered the loss of the said proprietary share with Manila Polo Club Inc. by
executing a false Affidavit of Loss and subsequently, he was able to secure a replacement certificate No. 4454 in
his name after allegedly complying with the legal requirements for the replacement of lost certificates. In so doing,
Mr. Luis L. Co misrepresented himself to be the legitimate owner of subject share and by executing a false
affidavit, he made it appear that Certificate No. 203 was lost despite the fact that said certificate is existing and
remains in possession of the corporation. Another demand was made upon Mr. Luis L. Co to deliver the newly
issued Manila Polo Club Certificate No. 4454 and to execute a Deed of Assignment in favor of a new nominee
yet failed to do so and said act of Mr. Luis Co constitutes misappropriation or conversion of something given to
him in trust to the prejudice of the bank;’

After the filing of Co’s counter affidavit the Office of the City Prosecutor filed an information for estafa against
him in the RTC and another information for perjury was filed in the MTC of Makati

During the pendency of the criminal case, Co filed an action for damages against Armand Luna and First
Producers Holdings and was docketed as Civil Case and claimed ownership over questioned Manila Polo Club
Proprietary Share No. 203. Co filed a motion for suspension of the case and his arraignment thereon but was
denied. CA ruled that a prejudicial question exists.

ISSUE: Whether there is an existence of a Prejudicial Question

RULING: None. The criminal action for estafa had been lodged with the Office of the City Prosecutor on March
13, 1997. Yet, respondent filed the civil case only eight months later. Indeed, as early as 1994, a written demand
had already been served on him to return the said share. He did not contest petitioner’s claim; in fact, he filed the
present civil action several months after the institution of the criminal charge. Verily, it is apparent that the civil
action was instituted only as an afterthought to delay the proceedings in the criminal case. In any event, the issue
of ownership is not a necessary element of estafa, as held by the Court in Hernandez v. Court of Appeals, which
quoted: "Ownership is not a necessary element of the crime of estafa”

3. San Miguel v. Perez (administrative – criminal)

FACTS: Petitioner San Miguel Properties Inc. purchased from B.F. Homes, Inc. 2,130 residential lots situated in
its subdivision BF Homes Parañaque. The transactions were embodied in three separate deeds of sale. The TCTs
covering the lots bought under the first and second deeds were fully delivered to San Miguel Properties, but 20
TCTs covering 20 of the 41 parcels of land purchased under the third deed of sale, were not delivered to San
Miguel Properties. On its part, BF Homes claimed that it withheld the delivery of the 20 TCTs for parcels of land
purchased under the third deed of sale because Atty. Orendain had ceased to be its rehabilitation receiver at the
time of the transactions after being meanwhile replaced as receiver by FBO Network Management, Inc. pursuant
to an order from the SEC. BF Homes refused to deliver the 20 TCTs despite demands. Thus, San Miguel
Properties filed a complaint-affidavit in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Las Piñas charging respondent
directors and officers of BF Homes with non-delivery of titles in violation Presidential Decree No. 957.

At the same time, San Miguel Properties sued BF Homes for specific performance in the HLURB praying to
compel BF Homes to release the 20 TCTs in its favor. San Miguel Properties filed a motion to suspend
proceedings in the OCP Las Piñas, citing the pendency of BF Homes’ receivership case in the SEC. In its
comment/opposition, BF Homes opposed the motion to suspend. In the meantime, however, the SEC terminated
BF Homes’ receivership prompting San Miguel Properties to file a reply to BF Homes’ comment/opposition
coupled with a motion to withdraw the sought suspension of proceedings due to the intervening termination of
the receivership. The OCP Las Piñas rendered its resolution, dismissing San Miguel Properties’ criminal
complaint for violation of Presidential Decree No. 957 on several grounds, one of which was 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 was first determined by the SEC en banc or by the HLURB.

ISSUE: 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 the violation of Section 25 of Presidential Decree No.
957 on the ground of a prejudicial question

RULING: YES. The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid conflicting decisions. An
examination of the nature of the two cases involved is thus necessary. An action for specific performance is the
remedy to demand the exact performance of a contract in the specific form in which it was made, or according to
the precise terms agreed upon by a party bound to fulfill it. Evidently, before the remedy of specific performance
is availed of, there must first be a breach of the contract. 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 subdivision owners, developers, operators, and/or sellers have reneged on their representations and
obligations to provide and maintain properly" the basic requirements and amenities, as well as of reports of
alarming magnitude of swindling and fraudulent manipulations perpetrated by unscrupulous subdivision and
condominium sellers and operators. 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
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 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.

4. Pimentel v. Pimentel

FACTS: Maria Chrysantine Pimentel y Lacap (private respondent) filed an action for frustrated parricide against
Joselito R. Pimentel (petitioner). Petitioner received summons to appear before the 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. Later,
petitioner filed an urgent motion to suspend the proceedings before the 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 outcome of Civil Case No. 04-7392 would have a bearing in the criminal
case filed against him before the RTC Quezon City. RTC denied the motion for suspension. CA also concurred.

ISSUE: 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.

RULING: NO. Civil Case Must be Instituted Before the Criminal Case. Also, Annulment of Marriage is not
a Prejudicial Question in Criminal Case for Parricide. The resolution of the civil action is not a prejudicial
question that would warrant the suspension of the criminal action. The relationship between the offender and the
victim is a key element in the crime of parricide. However, the issue in the annulment of marriage is not similar
or intimately related to the issue in the criminal case for parricide. Further, the relationship between 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 not produce it by reason of causes independent of petitioner’s 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.1avvphi1

We cannot accept petitioner’s reliance on Tenebro v. Court of Appeals17 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, although void ab
initio, may still produce legal consequences."1

5. Gaditano v. San Miguel Corp

FACTS: Petitioner Spouses Argovan who were engaged in the business of buying and selling beer and softdrinks
products purchased beer products from San Miguel Corporation. Petitioners paid through a check signed by wife
Florida and drawn against Argovan’s Asia Trust Bank Current Account. When said check was presented for
payment, the check was dishonored for having been drawn against insufficient funds. Despite three (3) written
demands, petitioner failed to make good of the check. This prompted SMC to file a criminal case for violation of
Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 and estafa against petitioners. In their Counter-Affidavit, petitioners maintained that their
checking account was funded under an automatic transfer arrangement, whereby funds from their joint savings
account with AsiaTrust Bank were automatically transferred to their checking account with said bank whenever
a check they issued was presented for payment. Petitioners claimed that when they issued the check to SMC,
their joint savings account had a balance of ₱412,513.17.3

(Guevarra), the Bank Manager of AsiaTrust Bank, advised Florida that the Allied Bank Check No. 82813 for
₱378,000.00, the same check handed to her by Fatima, was not cleared due to a material alteration in the name of
the payee. Guevarra explained further that the check was allegedly drawn payable to LG Collins Electronics, and
not to her, contrary to Fatima’s representation. AsiaTrust Bank then garnished the ₱378,000.00 from the joint
savings account of petitioners without any court order. Consequently, the check issued by petitioners to SMC was
dishonored having been drawn against insufficient funds.

Petitioners filed an action for specific performance and damages against AsiaTrust Bank, Guevarra, SMC and
Fatima. Petitioners alleged that AsiaTrust Bank and Guevarra unlawfully garnished and debited their bank
accounts; that their obligation to SMC had been extinguished by payment; and that Fatima issued a forged check.
Petitioners assert that the issues they have raised in the civil action constitute a bar to the prosecution of the
criminal case for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 and estafa.

ISSUE: Whether a prejudicial question exists to warrant the suspension of the criminal proceedings.

RULING: There is no necessity that the civil case be determined first before taking up the criminal complaints.
The issue in the criminal case is whether the petitioner is guilty of estafa and violation of Batas Pambansa Blg.
22, while in the civil case, it is whether AsiaTrust Bank had lawfully garnished the ₱378,000.00 from petitioners’
savings account.

The material facts surrounding the civil case bear no relation to the criminal investigation. The prejudicial
question in the civil case involves the dishonor of another check. SMC is not privy to the nature of the alleged
materially altered check leading to its dishonor and the eventual garnishment of petitioners’ savings account. The
source of the funds of petitioners’ savings account is no longer SMC’s concern. The matter is between petitioners
and Asia Trust Bank. On the other hand, the issue in the preliminary investigation is whether petitioners issued a
bad check to SMC for the payment of beer products.
Furthermore, three notices of dishonor were sent to petitioners, who then, should have immediately funded the
check. When they did not, their liabilities under the bouncing checks law attached. Such liability cannot be
affected by the alleged prejudicial question because their failure to fund the check upon notice of dishonour is
itself the offense.

6. Reyes v. Rossi (no pq, bp22, rescission, breach of contract)

FACTS: Teodoro Reyes contracted a deed of conditional sale with Advanced Foundation Construction System
Corporation represented by Ettore Rossi for the purchase of a certain dredging pump.

ISSUE: Whether PQ exist

RULING: No. The issue in the criminal case was whether or not the accused issued the dishonored checks
knowing them to be without funds upon presentment. On the other hand, the issue n the civil action for rescission
is whether or not the breach of obligation warranted the rescission of the sale. If after the trial, it would be found
that there was a material breach of contract, such result would necessarily mean that the accused would be
absolved of the criminal responsibility for issuing the dishonored checks. He, in fact, had already violated the law
at the time the conditional sale was still binding between the parties. Court said that the criminal proceedings for
violation of Blg. 22 could proceed despite the pendency of the civil action for rescission of the conditional sale.