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Lontok, Jr. vs. Gorgonio

*
No. L-37396. April 30, 1979.

MARCELINO LONTOK, JR., petitioner, vs. HON.


ALFREDO GORGONIO, as Presiding Judge of the
Municipal Court of San Juan, Rizal, respondent.

Criminal Procedure; Criminal Law; A charge of Damage to


Property in the sum of P780.00 and Slight Physical Injuries Thru
Reckless Imprudence cannot be made in a single information and
if such a defective information is filed after the lesiones leves has
already prescribed that part of the information on the Slight
Physical Injuries should be dismissed.—The issue is whether
Lontok, over his objection, can he tried by the municipal court on
an information charging the complex crime of damage to property
in the sum of P780 and lesiones leves through reckless
imprudence. We hold that he should be tried only for damage to
property through reckless imprudence, which, being punished by
a maximum fine of P2,340, a correctional penalty, is a less grave
felony (Arts. 9, 25 and 26 and 365, Revised Penal Code). As such,
it cannot be complexed with the light offense of lesiones leves
through reckless imprudence which as correctly contended by
Lontok, had already prescribed since that crime prescribes in
sixty days.
Same; Same; Complex crime defined.—There is a complex
crime when a single act constitutes two or more grave or less
grave felonies or when a grave or less grave offense is a means of
committing another grave or less grave offense.

________________

* SECOND DIVISION.

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Lontok, Jr. vs. Gorgonio

Same; Same; If one offense is light there is no complex crime.


—Applying article 48, it follows that if one offense is light, there is
no complex crime. The resulting offenses may be treated as
separate or the light felony may be absorbed by the grave felony.
Thus, the light felonies of damage to property and slight physical
injuries, both resulting from a single act of imprudence, do not
constitute a complex crime. They cannot be charged in one
information. They are separate offenses subject to distinct
penalties.
Same; Same; Same.—The case of Angeles vs. Jose, 96 Phil.
151, cited by the investigating fiscal, is different from the instant
case because in that case the negligent act resulted in the offenses
of lesiones menos graves and damage to property which were both
less grave felonies and which, therefore, constituted a complex
crime. In the instant case, following the ruling in the Turla case,
the offense of lesiones leves through reckless imprudence should
have been charged in a separate information, And since, as a light
offense, it prescribes in two months, Lontok’s criminal liability
therefor was already extinguished (Arts. 89(5), 90 and 91, Revised
Penal Code in relation to sec. 2(e) and (f), Rule 117, Rules of
Court). The trial court committed a grave abuse of discretion in
not sustaining Lontok’s motion to quash that part of the
information charging him with that light offense.

PETITION for certiorari of the orders of the Municipal


Court of San Juan, Rizal.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.


     Marcelino Lontok, Jr., in his own behalf.
     Office of the Solicitor General, for respondent.

AQUINO, J.:

This case is about the propriety of an information


containing the charge of “reckless imprudence resulting in
damage to property and multiple physical injuries”.
On March 29, 1973, Marcelino Lontok, Jr. was charged
with that delito compuesto in the municipal court of San
Juan, Rizal. In the information, it was alleged that on
November 14, 1972, while Lontok was recklessly driving
his Mercedes Benz car, he bumped a passenger jeep and
caused damaged to it in the sum of P780 and that the
bumping also caused physical in-

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Lontok, Jr. vs. Gorgonio

juries to three passengers who were incapacitated from


performing their customary labor for a period of less than
ten days (Criminal Case No. 26116).
Lontok filed a motion to quash that part of the
information wherein the offense of lesiones leves through
reckless imprudence is charged. He contended that,
because that offense prescribes in two months and it was
committed on November 14, 1972, the last day of the sixty-
day period for filing the charge as to that offense was
January 14, 1973. He prayed that the information be
amended by excluding that light offense.
The fiscal opposed the motion to quash. The municipal
court denied it. Lontok pleaded not guilty upon
arraignment. But instead of going to trial, he filed in this
Court on August 30, 1973 a petition wherein he prayed
that the amendment of the information be ordered by
deleting the portion thereof wherein the offense of slight
physical injuries through reckless imprudence is charged.
The Solicitor General in his comment agrees with
Lontok’s view that damage to property through reckless
imprudence cannot be completed with a light offense, that
the light offense had already prescribed, and that two
informations should have been filed. He manifested that he
would ask the prosecuting fiscal to amend the information.
Nevertheless, he concluded that since Lontok did not raise
any jurisdictional issue, his petition for certiorari was not
proper and, therefore, it should be dismissed.
The issue is whether Lontok, over his objection, can be
tried by the municipal court on an information charging
the complex crime of damage to property in the sum of
P780 and lesiones leves through reckless imprudence.
We hold that he should be tried only for damage to
property through reckless imprudence, which, being
punished by a maximum fine of P2,340, a correctional
penalty, is a less grave felony (Arts. 9, 25 and 26 and 365,
Revised Penal Code). As such, it cannot be complexed with
the light offense of lesiones leves through reckless
imprudence which, as correctly con-
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Lontok, Jr. vs. Gorgonio

tended by Lontok, had already prescribed since that crime


prescribes in sixty days.
There is a complex crime when a single act constitutes
two or more grave or less grave felonies or when a grave or
less grave offense is a means of committing another grave
or less grave offense.
As originally enacted, article 48 of the Revised Penal
Code provided that the crime is complex when a single act
constitutes two or more crimes, or when an offense is a
necessary means of committing the other. Commonwealth
Act No. 4000 amended article 48 by substituting the words
“grave or less grave felonies” for the word “crimes” in the
original version, thus eliminating a light felony as a
component part of a complex crime
Parenthetically, it may be noted in passing that the
concept of complex crime was applied in criminal
negligence or quasioffenses (People vs. Lara, 75 Phil. 786
and People vs. Agito, 103 Phil. 526, regarding multiple
homicide through reckless imprudence; People vs. Rodis,
105 Phil. 1294, regarding malversation through
falsification by reckless negligence; Samson vs. Court of
Appeals, 103 Phil. 277, regarding estafa through
falsification by reckless negligence; Angeles vs. Jose, 96
Phil. 151; Lapuz vs. Court of Appeals, 94 Phil. 710 and
People vs. Vendiola, 115 Phil. 122, regarding homicide,
grave physical injuries and grave damage to property, all
through reckless imprudence).
In all the foregoing, cases, it is assumed that reckless
imprudence is not a crime in itself but is simply a way of
committing a crime and it merely determines a lower
degree of criminal liability. Negligence becomes a
punishable act when it results in a crime (People vs. Faller,
67 Phil. 529).
Applying article 48, it follows that if one offense is light,
there is no complex crime. The resulting offenses may be
treated as a separate or the light felony may be absorbed
by the grave felony. Thus the light felonies of damage to
property and slight physical injuries, both resulting from a
single act of imprudence, do not constitute a complex crime.
They cannot be charged in one information. They are
separate offenses sub-
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Lontok, Jr. vs. Gorgonio

ject to distinct penalties (People vs. Turla, 50 Phil. 1001;


See People vs. Estipona, 70 Phil. 513).
Where the single act of imprudence resulted in double
less serious physical injuries, damage to property
amounting to P10,000 and slight physical injuries, a chief
of police did not err in filing a separate complaint for the
slight physical injuries and another complaint for the
lesiones menos graves and damage to property (Arcaya vs.
Teleron, L-37446, May 31, 1974. 57 SCRA 363, 365).
A chief of police likewise did not err in filing separate
complaints for slight physical injuries and grave oral
defamation committed on the same occasion by one person
against the same victim (Manduriao vs. Habana, L-28069,
August 18, 1977, 78 SCRA 241).
Where a complaint for slight physical injuries and grave
threats was filed in the justice of the peace court under the
old Judiciary Law, the said court had jurisdiction to try the
slight physical injuries case and could only undertake the
preliminary investigation of the latter offense (People vs.
Linatoc, 74 Phil. 586. See People vs. Acierto, 57 Phil. 614
and People vs. Benitez, 73 Phil. 671).
The case of Angeles vs. Jose, 96 Phil. 151, cited by
investigating fiscal, is different from the instant case
because in that case the negligent act resulted in the
offenses of lesiones menos graves and damage to property
which were both less grave felonies and which, therefore,
constituted a complex crime.
In the instant case, following the ruling in the Turla
case, the offense of lesiones leves through reckless
imprudence should have been charged in a separate
information. And since, as a light offense, it prescribes in
two months, Lontok’s criminal liability therefor was
already extinguished (Arts. 89[5], 90 and 91, Revised Penal
Code in relation to sec. 2[e] and [f], Rule 117, Rules of
Court). The trial court committed a grave abuse of
discretion in not sustaining Lontok’s motion to quash that
part of the information charging him with that light
offense.

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Lontok, Jr. vs. Gorgonio
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WHEREFORE, the lower court’s orders of May 21 and July


12, 1973 are set aside. It is ordered to try Lontok only for
damage to property through reckless imprudence. The
information need not be amended, it being understood that
Lontok has no more culpability for the offense of slight
physical injuries through reckless imprudence charged
therein. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

          Fernando (Acting C-J.), Barredo, Antonio,


Concepcion Jr. and Santos, JJ., concur.
     Abad Santos, J., did not take part.

Notes.—Where various victims expire or are hurt from


separate shots, the acts constitute separate and distinct
crimes. And, as there are multiple offenses multiple
penalties must of necessity be imposed (People vs. Undong,
66 SCRA 386).
The acts or omissions complained of as constituting the
offense must be stated in an ordinary and concise language
so as (a) to enable a person of common understanding to
know what offense is intended to be charged; and (b) to
enable the court to pronounce proper judgment. (Matilde,
Jr. vs. Jabson, 68 SCRA 456).
Where a person is charged with offenses based on the
same facts or which form part of a series of the same
character, a court order is required before said offense may
be tried jointly. (People vs. Navarro, 63 SCRA 264).
Prohibition or injunction is not available to restrain a
criminal prosecution. (Arkoncel vs. Court of First Instance
of Basilan City, 66 SCRA 361).
Award for damages to property is not proper where the
information charges only homicide and physical injuries.
(Catuiza vs. People, 13 SCRA 538.)
Section 4 of Republic Act 409 refers to liability arising
from negligence, in general, regardless of the object thereof,
whereas Article 2189 of the Civil Code governs liability due
to “defective streets,” in particular. (City of Manila vs.
Teotico, 22 SCRA 267.)
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Recovery of damages may be made either in criminal or


civil proceedings. (Heirs of Raymundo Castro vs. Bustos, 27
SCRA 327.)
Negligence is a relative or comparative, not an absolute,
term and its application depends upon the situation of the
parties and the degree of care and vigilance which the
circumstances reasonably require. (Corliss vs. Manila
Railroad Company, 27 SCRA 674.)
The Civil Code making clear that whoever by act or
omission causes damage to another, there being negligence
is under obligation to pay the damage done. (Corliss vs.
Manila Railroad Company, 27 SCRA 674.)
Where the thing which caused the injury complained of
is shown to be under the management of the defendant or
his servants and the accident is such as in the ordinary
course of things does not happen if those who have its
management or control use proper care, it affords
reasonable evidence, in the absence of explanation by the
defendant, that the accident arose from want of care.
(Africa vs. Caltex (Phil.), Inc., 16 SCRA 448.)

——o0o——

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