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PANAGUITON V DOJ

GR 167571

FACTS
Cawili and his business associate Tongson borrowed from Panaguiton (petitioner) sums amounting to
1,979,459. Cawili and Tongson issued checks signed by both of them to Panaguiton but these were
dishonored upon presentation. Panaguiton made demands to pay but to no avail. He formally filed a
complaint on August 24 1995 for violating BP 22 before the City Prosecutor’s Office.

Tongson moved to drop his name from the case as his signatures were allegedly falsified. Case against
him was dismissed but afterwards upon finding that Tongson might have indeed signed the checks, the
chief state prosecutor directed the city prosecutor to conduct a reinvestigation. Tongson moved for
reconsideration but denied.

In 1999 assistant prosecutor dismissed the complaint for the action has prescribed pursuant to Act 3326,
which provides for the prescriptive periods of statutes without their own (4 years for BP22). She claims
that the filing of the complaint on August 24 1995 did not interrupt the running of the period as the law
refers to judicial and not administrative proceedings.

Panaguiton appealed to the DOJ, but was dismissed. He moved for reconsideration two times before it
was held that the prescription had not elapsed. However in another resolution the DOJ ruled that
prescription has set in.

Panaguiton filed certiorari petition in CA but was dismissed for failure to attach a proper verification and
certification for non-forum shopping and that the DOJ resolution (saying prescription has set in) dated
August 9 2003 submitted was a mere photocopy. Panaguiton complied but the CA still denied.

ISSUE
Procedural:
P.1. W/N verification subsequently attached by Panaguiton substantially complies with the rules
P.2. W/N dismissal of the case for failure to attach certified true copy was warranted (he submitted only a
photocopy)

Substantive:
S.1. W/N The filing of the complaint in the prosecutor’s office tolled the prescriptive period.

HELD
P.1. YES. Subsequent attachment substantially complied with requirements of the law.
P.2. NO. Case shouldn’t have been dismissed.

S.1. YES. Filing of the complaint in the prosecutor’s office tolls the prescriptive period for violations of
BP22.

RATIO
P.1. The verification was intended simply to secure an assurance that the allegations therein are true and
not a mere product of fiction. Deficiency in the verification may be excused or dispensed with as this
doesn’t affect jurisdiction. At times the court even waives the requirement or just allows corrections.

P.2. A certified true copy was actually attached in Annex A for the August 9 resolution. The photocopy
attached was for the August 3 resolution and this wasn’t the resolution the petitioner seeks to be
reversed.

S.1. When Act 3326 was passed into law, preliminary investigation of cases was done by the justices of
peace, and not by agents of the executive department (i.e. prosecutors). Thus, the prevailing rule at that
time is that prescription is tolled once filed with the justice of peace (a judicial process). However, since
then, the conduction of a preliminary investigation was moved to the function of the executive department.
Today, the term proceedings must be understood to mean either executive or judicial proceedings. With
this interpretation, any type of investigation may ultimately lead to sufficiently toll prescription.

To rule otherwise would deprive the injured party the right to obtain vindication on account of delays not
under his control. As seen in this case, various conflicting opinions of the DOJ delayed his cause.
Aggrieved parties who do not sleep on their right should not be allowed to suffer simply because of
circumstances beyond their control.