I was charged with three counts of violation of Batas Pambansa (BP) 22 some seven years ago. The case was dismissed because the complainant and I settled the payments of the checks. I am applying for work abroad and when I was securing government clearances, my BP 22 case still appeared in their system. Upon inquiry with the court, they said that the dismissal was provisional and not yet permanent and that I should consult a lawyer if I wanted it to be permanent. The court personnel did not explain anymore what I needed to do and kept on insisting that I consult a lawyer instead. Please help me with my problem.
Dear Mary Jay,
The provision of Section 8, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court governing provisional dismissal is applicable in your case. It provides that “a case shall not be provisionally dismissed except with the express consent of the accused and with notice to the offended party; the provisional dismissal of the offense punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six (6) years or a fine of any amount, or both, shall become permanent one (1) year after issuance of the order without the case having been revived. With respect to offenses punishable by imprisonment of more than six (6) years, their provisional dismissal shall become permanent two (2) years after issuance of the order without the case having been revived.”
As held in People of the Philippines, et al. v. Panfilo Lacson, G.R. 149453, April 1, 2003, this rule on provisional dismissal was conceptualized by the committee on the revision of the rules and approved by the Court en banc primarily to enhance the administration of the criminal justice system and the rights to due process of the State and the accused by eliminating the deleterious practice of trial courts of provisionally dismissing criminal cases on motion of either the prosecution or the accused or jointly, either with no time-bar for the revival thereof or with a specific or definite period for such revival by the public prosecutor. There were times when such criminal cases were no longer revived or re-filed due to causes beyond the control of the public prosecutor or due to reasons only known to the concerned prosecutor.
As you have stated, your case for violation of BP 22 was already dismissed some seven years ago. However, the dismissal, according to the court personnel, was merely provisional or temporary. This provisional or temporary dismissal of the case only means that the State, which is prosecuting the case, can still revive the complaint against you within the period stated under the Rules of Court. Since the penalty for violation of BP 22, which is being charged against you, is below six years and considering the lapse of more than one year, the order of the court provisionally dismissing the complaint can now be permanent. To initiate this, it is but proper to file before the court that rendered the order a motion praying for the permanent dismissal of the case. You may proceed to the Public Attorney’s Office-District Office of the place where the court is situated for advice. Accordingly, a public attorney will assist you in filing the proper motion after assessment of the case and your qualification as a client of the office.
Please be reminded that the above legal opinion is solely based on our appreciation of the problem that you have stated. The opinion may vary when other facts are elaborated therein.
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