I know that light offenses such as Slight Physical Injuries prescribe in two months. The period stops when a complaint in the barangay is filed. When then will it continue to run?
The running of the prescriptive period of an offense stops from the moment the same is brought under the Katarungang Pambarangay. It will continue to run after the Certification to File Action or the Certificate of Repudiation is issued. This is according to Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991, which provides:
“Sec. 410. Procedure for Amicable Settlement. —
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(c) Suspension of prescriptive period of offenses. — While the dispute is under mediation, conciliation, or arbitration, the prescriptive periods for offenses and cause of action under existing laws shall be interrupted upon filing of the complaint with the punong barangay. The prescriptive periods shall resume upon receipt by the complainant of the complaint or the certificate of repudiation or of the certification to file action issued by the lupon or pangkat secretary: Provided, however, That such interruption shall not exceed sixty (60) days from the filing of the complaint with the punong barangay.
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As can be gleaned from the aforementioned law, the running of the prescriptive period of an offense is suspended temporarily once the complaint is filed before the Barangay Chairman under the Katarungang Pambarangay. However, as likewise stated above, such suspension shall last for only 60 days. Beyond the said period, the prescriptive period shall continue to run even if no certification is i ssued yet.
It is worthy to mention at this point that a complainant may file a case, which falls within the jurisdiction of Katarungang Pambarangay, directly in court or other government agencies without having to undergo conciliation before the Barangay, under the circumstances as provided by Rule VIII (b), Rules and Regulations Implementing the Local Government Code of 1991, to wit:
“[b]Notwithstanding the foregoing rule, however, a complainant may institute proceedings directly in court or with the proper government office, in the following enumerated cases where urgent legal action is necessary to prevent injustice from being committed or further continued:
 In a criminal case where the accused was arrested without a warrant and is under police custody or detention, the criminal complaint or information may directly be filed by the offended party, police or fiscal with the proper court;
 A person illegally deprived of his rightful custody over another or a person illegally deprived of his liberty or one acting in his behalf may directly file a petition for habeas corpus with the proper court to regain custody or secure the release of such person;
 Actions coupled with provisional remedies such as preliminary injunction, attachment, delivery of personal property and support during the pendency of the action; and
 Where the action may otherwise no longer be filed in court because it may be barred by the Statute of Limitations.” (Em- phasis Supplied)
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org