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[ GR No. 6201, Aug 12, 1911 ]



19 Phil. 518

[ G. R. No. 6201, August 12, 1911 ]




The defendant herein was sentenced in first instance to four months of arresto mayor, with the accessory penalties provided by law, for the crime of seduction, and appealed from that judgment to this court.

The offended person reported the crime to the justice of the peace of Morong,. and the consequent preliminary investigation was accordingly held.  As a result thereof, the provincial  fiscal,  and  not the offended person, drew up the formal  complaint  that served as  the basis  for the  trial and the consequent judgment in the Court of First Instance, According to the charge of the injured person arid the fiscal's complaint, and  as was distinctly shown during the hearing, the criminal act occurred within the period  between the. years 1904 and 1906.

Had a formal complaint been  presented  by  the  offended person, the proceedings instituted and  carried on by the fiscal in the Court of First  Instance would have been entirely correct, if the cause fell within the scope of Act No. 1773, which was apparently the law taken into consideration by both the court and the fiscal in handling the case.   Under that Act, the accusation of the offended person is sufficient for instituting proceedings for the crime of seduction; it is unnecessary for her to present a formal complaint, the fiscal and the courts being  left  unhampered to  prosecute and punish the crime upon the mere accusation by the injured person  or her  legal  representatives.  But  this  Act was passed and went into effect on October 11,  1907, and can not therefore be applied to the crime here on trial, which was committed  long before that date, that is, between  the years 1904 and 1906, as stated above.

The law applicable to this case is article  448 of the Penal Code, which prescribes literally that "criminal proceedings for seduction  can  only be instituted on the  complaint  (a instancia)  of  the  offended  person or her parents,  grandparents or guardian."

In the terminology of the code the word instancia, used in the passage just quoted, is equivalent to charge or complaint which,  as is known, means or is more than a mere accusation (denuncia).  In his work entitled "El Codigo Penal," Pacheco comments as follows on this passage:
"In the crime of seduction it is necessary that the formal complaint be made  by the injured person,  or her guardian, parents,  or grandparents.   No other person is admissible. It is necessary that those who are admissible file a charge, a formal accusation, a  complaint.  It is not sufficient that they accuse, that they make report.   The law requires more, employing the  strongest  word  *  *  *.  In  seduction there must be a complaint filed by the offended person, her parents,  her grandparents, or her  guardian."   [Vol. Ill, p. 154.]
Commenting on the  same provision, Viada says that:
"It provides  that criminal proceedings arising from the crime of seduction  *   *  *  can only be instituted  by the persons concerned  (the seduced, her parents, grandparents, or guardian).   From this it is inferred (he adds) that the aforesaid persons, to the exclusion  of everyone else, even the state prosecutors, are the only ones who can institute the proper proceedings for investigating the crime of seduction; and, moreover, a mere accusation  (denuncia) to the judicial authorities  will not  suffice,  but it is necessary that they institute the criminal procedure provided for the crime by means of the consequent charge  or formal complaint {instancia o querella) ."
It is, then, necessary and indispensable, in proceedings for the crime of seduction committed before the passage of Act No. 1773, that a formal complaint instituting the consequent criminal action,  and not a mere  accusation,  be presented by the injured person or her legal representatives, who are distinctly named, to the exclusion of all others, in article 448 of the Penal Code.  There being no such formal complaint in this  case, the trial court had no jurisdiction to try the crime charged; and, as a necessary consequence, all the proceedings in the present case  are inherently null and void.

The judgment appealed from is reversed and the cause finally dismissed, with the costs in both instances de oflcio. So ordered.

Torres, Johnson, Carson, and Moreland, JJ., concur.