Header Ads

Villaflor vs. Vivar Case Digest


The absence of a preliminary investigation does not impair the validity of an information or render it defective. Neither does it affect the jurisdiction of the court or constitute a ground for quashing the information. Instead of dismissing the information, the court should hold the proceedings in abeyance and order the public prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation.


Facts: 

Vivar mauled Villaflor outside a bar in Muntinlupa City. On his way out, Vivar told Villaflor, "next time, I will use my gun on you". A preliminary investigation for slight physical injuries was made by the assistant city prosecutor. Vivar was later charged with the crime of slight physical injuries.

When the injuries sustained by Villaflor turned out to be more serious than they had appeared at first, the charge of slight physical injuries was withdrawn and an Information for serious physical injuries was filed. Another Information for grave threats was also filed against Vivar.

Instead of filing a counter-affidavit, Vivar filed a Motion to Quash the Information for grave threats. He contended that the threat, having been made in connection with the charge of serious physical injuries, should have been absorbed by the latter; hence, the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over it.

MTC denied the motion to quash. Vivar was arraigned for grave threats and pleaded not guilty.

RTC reversed the Order, granted the motion to quash and dismissed the charges for failure of the public prosecutor  to conduct a preliminary investigation.


Issues:

1. Can the court motu propio order the dismissal of the two (2) criminal cases for serious physical injuries and grave threats on the ground that the public prosecutor failed to conduct a preliminary investigation?

2. Is there a need for a new preliminary investigation?

3. Should the failure of the public prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation be considered a ground to quash the criminal informations for serious physical injuries and grave threats filed against the accused-respondent?


Held:

1. No. The absence of a preliminary investigation does not impair the validity of the information or otherwise render it defective. Neither does it affect the jurisdiction of the court or constitute a ground for quashing the information. The trial court, instead of dismissing the information, should hold in abeyance the proceedings and order the public prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation.


2. No. A new preliminary investigation cannot be demanded by Vivar. This is because the change made by the public prosecutor was only a formal amendment.

The filing of the Amended Information, without a new preliminary investigation, did not violate the right of respondent to be protected from a hasty, malicious and oppressive prosecution; an open and public accusation of a crime; or from the trouble, the expenses and the anxiety of a public trial. The Amended Information could not have come as a surprise to him for the simple and obvious reason that it charged essentially the same offense as that under the original Information. Moreover, if the original charge was related to the amended one, such that an inquiry would elicit substantially the same facts, then a new preliminary investigation was not necessary.


3. Section 3, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, provides the grounds on which an accused can move to quash the complaint or information. Nowhere in the above-mentioned section is there any mention of a lack of a preliminary investigation as a ground for a motion to quash. Furthermore, we stress that the failure of the accused to assert any ground for a motion to quash before arraignment, either because he had not filed the motion or had failed to allege the grounds therefor, shall be deemed a waiver of such grounds. In this case, he waived his right to file such motion when he pleaded not guilty to the charge of grave threats. (Villaflor vs. Vivar, G.R. No. 134744. January 16, 2001)

No comments

Powered by Blogger.