Published 1 May 2023, The Daily Tribune
In criminal procedure, it is basic that all criminal actions commenced by a complaint or information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the prosecutor. This is well-enshrined in Section 5, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure:
Section 5. Who Must Prosecute Criminal Actions. — All criminal actions commenced by a complaint or information shall be prosecuted under the direction and control of the prosecutor. However, in Municipal Trial Courts or Municipal Circuit Trial Courts when the prosecutor assigned thereto or to the case is not available, the offended party, any peace officer, or public officer charged with the enforcement of the law violated may prosecute the case. This authority shall cease upon actual intervention of the prosecutor or upon elevation of the case to the Regional Trial Court. (Emphasis supplied)
In the case of Laude v. Ginez-Jabalde (G.R. No. 217456, 24 November 2015), the Supreme Court emphasized the requirement of public prosecutor’s conformity in pleadings for criminal case.
In Laude, petitioners filed an Urgent Motion to Compel the Armed Forces of the Philippines to Surrender the Custody of Accused to the Olongapo City Jail without the conformity of the public prosecutor. This was denied by the public respondent.
In their appeal, the petitioners argued that the requirement of public prosecutor’s conformity is “superfluous” given the alleged position of Secretary Leila de Lima in the newspaper articles which support the petitioners’ Urgent Motion.
Ruling against the petitioners, the Supreme Court held that the public prosecutor’s conformity was not a mere superfluity and was necessary to pursue criminal action.
According to the Court, save for exceptional circumstances, a private party does not have the legal personality to prosecute the criminal aspect of a case, as it is the People of the Philippines who are the real party in interest.
The Supreme Court explained that since a criminal case must be under the direction and control of the prosecutor when the public prosecutor does not give his or her conformity to the pleading of a party, the party does not have the required legal personality to pursue the case.
The High Court further enlightened that the duty and authority to prosecute the criminal aspects of this case are duly lodged in the public prosecutor. Thus, the public prosecutor’s refusal to give her conforme to the Motion is an act well within the bounds of her position.
Subsequently, in the case of Valderrama v. People (G.R. 220054, 27 March 2017), the Supreme Court ruled that the private respondent’s Motion to Reconsider was insufficient for failing to include the public prosecutor’s conformity.
In Valderrama, the private respondent did not deny that his Motion to Reconsider did not have the public prosecutor’s conformity. He merely claimed that the Office of the City Prosecutor did not object to the filing of the Motion to Reconsider.
However, it was found that the Office of the City Prosecutor was only furnished with a copy of the Motion to Reconsider and it opens with the phrase “(p)rivate complaining witness, through counsel and the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City, and to this Honorable Court respectfully states.”
The Supreme Court ruled that this is not sufficient. According to the Court, since the Motion to Reconsider pertains to the presentation of the prosecution’s evidence, it involves the criminal aspect of the case, and thus, cannot be considered without the public prosecutor’s conformity.
With the foregoing jurisprudence, it must be remembered that in the submission of pleadings for criminal actions, a public prosecutor’s conformity under Section 5, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure is not a mere technical issue and must be faithfully complied with.