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[ GR No. L-13428, Nov 27, 1959 ]



106 Phil. 545

[ G.R. No. L-13428, November 27, 1959 ]




This is an appeal from the order of  the Court of First Instance  of Manila,  dated December 26, 1957, granting the petition for certiorari with injunction filed with it,  and annulling the order of respondent Judge Geraldez of the Municipal Court of Manila, denying the motion to quash the information filed with him against the petitioner,  restraining said Judge from further taking cognizance of the case.

The  facts in this case are not in dispute.  Petitioner Yao Lit (Yao Dit)  was found by  members of the  Manila Police Department on August 15,1957 at Salazar-Benavides streets in Manila, acting  suspiciously, and he was placed under arrest.  In his  possession,  they  found  a Chinese jueteng list.  To establish his identity and other personal circumstances, he was required to produce his alien certificate of registration, which he failed  to  do,  as a result of which, the Office of the City Fiscal filed two complaints against him  one  for  violation  of the Gambling Law, Article 195  (c)  of the  Revised Penal  Code in the Court of First Instance of Manila,  and another complaint for violation of  Section 7  of Republic  Act 562,  as amended, in the Municipal Court of the same city.  On September 25, 1957, petitioner filed a motion to quash the  second complaint in the Municipal Court on the ground that said court had no  jurisdiction  over the offense charged and that the Fiscal had no  authority  to file the complaint or information.  Acting upon said  motion  to  quash, respondent Judge denied  the motion as well as the motion to reconsider his order of denial.  Dissatisfied  with said orders  of  the  municipal Judge,  petitioner  filed in the Court  of First Instance of Manila, the present case for certiorari with injunction against the respondent Judge and the Assistant City Fiscal, seeking to annul the said orders of the respondent Judge and to restrain the latter from trying the case against him.

Appellants take the position that the City Fiscal, under Section 38  (b) of Republic Act No. 409, as amended  by Republic Act No. 1201, is charged with  the prosecution of all crimes  and  violations  of  the  city ordinances,  in the Court  of First Instance and  in the Municipal Court of the  City  of Manila; that  he is equally  charged  with the investigation of all crimes and violations of ordinances committed within said city and that this includes offenses and violations of the law by aliens.

Section 7 of Republic Act No. 562, as  amended by Section 3 of Republic  Act 751,  provides as follows:
"SEC. 7. Every alien subject  to the provisions of this Act  shall, on demand of any immigration officials, or a  member  of the Philippine Constabulary,  police, or other peace  officer,  exhibit his certificate of registration.  In the case of an alien for whom a parent or legal guardian has applied for  the registration  of  such  alien, the exhibition  of the certificate herein required  shall be made by such  parent or legal  guardian.  Every alien, or parent or legal guardian of such  alien, violating this section shall,  at  the option of the Commissioner of Immigration, be subject to an  administrative fine not exceeding one hundred pesos, or be  prosecuted and  upon conviction  be punished by a fine not exceeding two hundred pesos, or imprisonment for  not more than  thirty days, or  both."
It is significant to  note that the original provisions  of Section 7 of Republic Act  562, provided  for  the punishment  of  violation of  its  provisions,  namely, failure  to exhibit his certificate of registration when demanded by any immigration official or member of the Philippine Constabulary,  police or other peace officer, with  a fine not exceeding P200  or imprisonment for not more than thirty days, or  both, that is to say, that any such violation  may immediately be  followed  by prosecution by the prosecuting official.   However, the amendment as above-reproduced, introduces the intervention of the Commissioner  of Immigration in the sense that he has the choice or  option  to either subject the erring alien to an administrative fine or indorse his  prosecution  before  the court.   The  logical conclusion is that the prosecuting official may not  initiate prosecution until and unless the Commissioner  of  Immigration has elected and  decided upon said prosecution  in lieu of an  administrative charge and   fine.   In  the  well prepared  appealed decision  of Judge Antonio Canizares, he correctly discusses and resolves this question, and we reproduce  with favor the pertinent portion of said  decision:
A cursory reading of the original provision  (Sec. 7,  Republic Act No. 562), shows that a violation thereof subjects the offender to prosecution before the court and if  found guilty be punished by a fine  not exceeding two hundred pesos,  or  imprisonment for not more  than  30 days, or both,  while the  amendatory provision (Sec. 3, Rep. Act No. 751) gives the Commissioner of Immigration the discretion to  choose  whether to  impose an administrative fine or  to  prosecute criminally  the  offender  before  the  court.  It is clear that under  the amendatory provision  (Sec. 3,  Rep.  Act No. 751), the prosecuting official cannot immediately proceed to prosecute the offender without the Commissioner of Immigration having first exercised such discretion. This  is obviously  the  intention of Congress, as can be gleaned from a reading of  the Explanatory Note to House Bill No. 2138  (Exh. 'H'), which is  the bill that  seeks to amend the Alien Registration  Law  of 1950  (Rep.  Act No.  562), the  Congressional  Record  of  the  proceedings  and consideration thereof by the Senate (Exhs. '1-2', '1-3'), and also the appropriation of the sum of P50,000 for the  employment of additional personnel for  the Bureau of  Immigration to  carry out the provisions of Republic Act No. 751 considering the thousands of violations thereof expected to be  investigated  by  said  office. It  is also clear that Congress intended to bestow  upon the Commissioner of Immigration the  duty of investigating and  imposing administrative fines upon violators of the provisions of Republic Act No. 751,  before  their prosecution before the courts, for the  reason that said official has better facilities  than the prosecuting officials to  carry  out  the provisions of  said  Act, the former official being the keeper of records pertaining to  aliens.  Moreover, as indicated in the explanatory note to House Bill No. 2138, the alien violator  may  have valid reasons for  his  failure  to  comply with the  law, and for such light mist demeanor he would be more  disposed to pay an  administrative fine, assessed by the  Commissioner of Immigration in accordance with the facts of the particular case,  rather  than undergo the trouble  and expense  of facing  criminal  prosecution. It  can also be  inferred that  Congress,  in enacting  Republic  Act  No. 751,  intended that the prosecuting  officials give their attention  to more serious offenses than to violations of this Act, which can properly be handled by the Commissioner of Immigration.  Furthermore, the Revised Charter of Manila, which has  the nature of a  general law, under which the Fiscal maintains that he has the duty and  authority to investigate and  prosecute  all  crimes and  violations  of  the  city ordinances, cannot prevail over  Republic  Act No. 751,  which is  a special law, specially when the Charter of Manila does not contain any provision specifically repealing said special law.  Consequently, the prosecuting fiscal, in  immediately prosecuting the  petitioner in  court  without first  affording  the Commissioner of  Immigration an opportunity to exercise his  discretion over  the matter  involved  in the offense charged  against the  petitioner,  clearly  acted in  excess of his authority."
In view  of the foregoing, the  decision  appealed from is affirmed.  The motion to quash should have been granted by respondent Judge.   No costs.

Paras,  C.  J., Bengzon,  Padilla, Bautista Angela,  Labrador,  Reyes,  Endencia, Barrera, and Gutierrez David,  JJ., concur.