I was charged with qualified theft before the City Prosecutor’s Office. When my girlfriend, who is a law student, reviewed the information, she said the same may be “quashed” because the signature of the city prosecutor or his authorized officer is lacking. Is she correct?
The case of Girlie M. Quisay vs. People of the Philippines (G.R. No. 216920, January 13, 2016), penned by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, is instructive and responsive to your query. Particularly, it emphasizes that Section 4, Rule 112 of the 2000 Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure requires that in the filing of a complaint or information, a prior written authority or approval of the named officers therein must be had before a complaint or information may be filed. It reiterated:
“SECTION 4. Resolution of investigating prosecutor and its review. – If the investigating prosecutor finds cause to hold the respondent for trial, he shall prepare the resolution and information. He shall certify under oath in the information that he, or as shown by the record, an authorized officer, has personally examined the complainant and his witnesses; that there is reasonable ground to believe that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof; that the accused was informed of the complaint and of the evidence submitted against him; and that he was given an opportunity to submit controverting evidence. Otherwise, he shall recommend the dismissal of the complaint.
Within five (5) days from his resolution, he shall forward the record of the case to the provincial or city prosecutor or chief state prosecutor, or to the Ombudsman or his deputy in cases of offenses cognizable by the Sandiganbayan in the exercise of its original jurisdiction. They shall act on the resolution within ten (10) days from their receipt thereof and shall immediately inform the parties of such action.
No complaint or information may be filed or dismissed by an investigating prosecutor without the prior written authority or approval of the provincial or city prosecutor or chief state prosecutor or the Ombudsman or his deputy. x x x x” (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
As such, as a general rule, it clarifies that complaints or information filed before the courts without the prior written authority or approval of the authorized officers renders the same defective and, therefore, subject to quashal pursuant to Section 3 (d), Rule 117 of the Rules of Court, stating:
“SECTION 3. Grounds. – The accused may move to quash the complaint or information on any of the following grounds:
xxx xxx xxx
(d) That the officer who filed the information had no authority to do so; x x x x” (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Clearly, your girlfriend may be correct in telling you that the information filed against you for qualified theft can be quashed based on the above-stated.
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 email@example.com.