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[ GR No. L-13354, Dec 29, 1959 ]



106 Phil. 851

[ G. R. No. L-13354, December 29, 1959 ]




Petitioners-appellants Apolinario de la Cruz, et al. are appealing the  order of  the  Court  of First Instance of Dagupan of  October 29, 1957,  denying their petition for prohibition sought to restrain the  City Fiscal of Dagupan City from filing an information against them or further prosecuting them for falsification of public document.

Carmelita de la Cruz filed in the Court of First  Instance of Lingayen,  Pangasinan, a  complaint dated  August 22, 1957, against Apolinario de  la Cruz, for the  purpose of declaring null  and void the  affidavit  of adjudication executed by him, wherein he declared  that he was the only heir of Francisca Bandong and adjudicated  unto himself a  parcel of land left by her.  Carmelita claims that  said parcel belongs to her, having inherited the same from her father Ludovico de la Cruz, to  whom it had  been donated by Francisca.  In his answer, Apolinario alleged  that the affidavit of adjudication was made by him in good faith, the same having been  executed with the consent  of all the heirs of Francisca.  In his cross-complaint, he claimed that the deed of donation invoked by Carmelita was fictitious, and so should  be declared null  and  void.

On September  20,  1957,  petitioners-appellants  were summoned by the Dagupan  City  Fiscal to appear before him  for investigation of the  charge  of  falsification of public  document  in connection  with the affidavit  of adjudication  made by Apolinario.   Counsel for petitioners-appellants  informed the  fiscal that there were two pending civil  cases  in  the Court of  First Instance of  Lingayen, Pangasinan, one for  the annulment of the deed of adjudication  above referred  to, and the other to annulment of the deed of donation said to have been made by Francisca in favor of Ludovico de la Cruz, and that this  constituted a prejudicial question which warranted the criminal action being held in abeyance.   Inasmuch  as the Fiscal proposed to  continue  with his investigation, petitioners-appellants filed  their petition for prohibition, which as already stated, was  denied by the trial  court.  We  reproduce that portion of  the appealed order of the trial  court, which gives its reason for the denial of the petition:
"*  *  * the contention of petitioners is untenable, as the civil action for annulment of the  deed of adjudication has no connection whatsoever with  the investigation being made by the City Fiscal over the fact that the petitioner, Apolinario de la Cruz, in said writ of adjudication  made it  appear that he  was the only  heir when in truth and in fact there were other heirs.   It is clear that the information  of falsification of public document does not in one way or another affect  the pending civil case  of annulment of said deed of adjudication.

"With respect to the other pending civil case for the annulment of the deed of donation, it should be  noted  that Apolinario de la Cruz, the petitioner in this case,  is not a  party to the donation, and the investigation made on him by the  City Fiscal for falsification of public  document, is entirely foreign and distinct  from that civil case  for annulment of the  deed of donation.

"The foregoing facts show that the investigation being conducted by  the City Fiscal of  this City, for the falsification of public document against the herein petitioner has  no bearing nor relation with the two civil cases which were  pending  for trial before the Court of First Instance of Lingayen, and as such the petitioner, can not now invoke the theory of prejudicial question."  (Record, pp. 55-56)
Prejudicial  question has been defined and explained as follows:
"* * * that which arises in a case, the resolution of which (question)  is a logical  antecedent  of  the  issue involved in said case, arid the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal (Cuestion prejudicial, es la  que  surge en un  pleito  o causa cuya resolucion es antecedente logico de la cuestion objeto del  pleito o causa  y cuyo conocimiento  corresponda  a los tribunales de otro orden o jurisdiccion. X Enciclopedia Juridica Española,  p. 228).  The prejudicial question must be  determinative of the case before  the court; this is its first  element.  Jurisdiction  to try  said question must be lodged in another tribunal; this is the second element."   (People vs. Aragon, 94 Phil., 357;  50 Off.  Gaz. [10],  4863).

"Prejudicial question is understood in law to be that which must precede the criminal action, that  which requires a decision before a final  judgment  is rendered  in  the principal  action  with which said question  is closely connected.  Not all previous questions  are prejudicial, although all prejudicial questions  are necessarily previous,"   (Herbari  vs. Concepcion, 40 Phil.,  837).

"A civil action is prejudicial when it  refers to a fact separate and distinct from the offense charged but yet so intimately related thereto as to be determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused.  For example, a civil  action for the annulment  of the second marriage is, with respect  to the criminal charge for bigamy a prejudicial question  as  to  require  its  adjudication before the criminal prosecution may proceed.  However, where the only  ground upon which the  civil  action for annulment is  based is  that  the second  marriage  was contracted  allegedly in good faith at  a time when  the first marriage was still in existence, such civil action does  not constitute a prejudicial question for there is no issue therein that  may  be determinative of petitioner's innocence in the criminal case.  That second  marriage was contracted in good faith is immaterial in the civil action.  It is material  only in the criminal case to show lack of criminal  intent."  (II Moran,  pp. 652-653, 1957  ed.)
As regards the annulment of the deed of donation sought by  petitioner  Apolinario  in  his  cross-complaint  before the  Court of First  Instance  of Lingayen, Pangasinan, we agree  with the  trial court that it has no  intimate relation to the criminal investigation  being conducted by respondent Fiscal, Apolinario not even being a party to  said  deed of donation; consequently,  it may by no means be regarded as a prejudicial question.

Now, with respect to the annulment of  the affidavit of adjudication  sought by Carmella the execution  by Apolinario of said  affidavit  with its narration of  facts, is  intimately related to his guilt  or innocence of  the charge of  falsification being investigated  by the Fiscal, it is true; however,  resolution of the petition for annulment of the affidavit of adjudication, affirmative or other wise,  does not and  will not  determine  criminal  responsibility  in  the  falsification  case.  Regardless  of  the outcome of the  pending civil case for annulment  of  the affidavit of adjudication, determination  of the charge of falsification would be based on the truth  or falsity of the narration of facts in the affidavit of  adjudication, specially with reference to the existence of heirs of Francisca besides Apolinario.   Therefore,  the civil case aforementioned does not  involve a prejudicial  question.

In view of the foregoing, the appealed order is hereby affirmed, with costs.

Paras,  C.  J., Padilla, Conception, Endencia, Barrera, and Gutierrez David, JJ., concur.