Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. L-7234             May 21, 1955
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellant,
PAZ M. DEL ROSARIO, defendant-appellee.
Assistant Solicitor General, Guillermo E. Torres and Solicitor Pacifico P. de Castro for appellant.
A. Mendoza, E. del Rosario and G. Romero for appellee.
On July 27, 1953, an information was filed in the Municipal Court of Pasay City charging Paz M. del Rosario with slight physical injuries committed on the 28th day of May, 1953. The accused thereupon presented a motion to quash the information on the ground that the offense charged had already prescribed in accordance with the provisions of Articles 90 and 91 of the Revised Penal Code. The municipal court sustained this motion and dismissed the case. Against the order of dismissal appeal is made directly to this Court under the provisions of section 17, sub-paragraph 6 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 as only questions of law are involved in the appeal.
The pertinent provisions of Articles 90 and 91 of the Revised Penal Code are as follows:
ART. 90. Prescription of crimes.— . . . .
The offenses of oral defamation and slander by deed shall prescribe in six months.
Light offenses prescribe in two months.
ART. 91. Computation of prescription of offenses.— The period of prescription shall commence to run from the day on which the crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities or their agents, . . . ..
The court a quo held that in accordance with Article 13 of the new Civil Code the "month" mentioned in Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code should be one of 30 days, and since the period of prescription commences to run from the day "on which the crime is discovered by the offended party," i.e., in this case on May 28, 1953 when it was committed, the two months period provided for the prescription of the offense already expired when the information was filed, because the filing was on the 61st day. The Solicitor General in this appeal argues that in the same manner that Article 13 of the new Civil Code is applied to determine the length of the two months period required for the prescription of the offense, its provision (of the said Article 13) contained in paragraph 3 which reads "In computing a period, the first day shall be excluded, and the last day included" should also be applied, so that the information should be considered as filed on the 60th day and not on the 61st day after the offense has been committed. The resolution of the appeal involves the determination of two legal issues, first, whether the prescriptive period should commence from the very day on which the crime was committed, or from the day following that in which it was committed, in accordance with the third paragraph of Article 13 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, and second, whether the term "month" in the Revised Penal Code should be understood to be a month of 30 days, instead of the civil calendar or calendar month.
As to the first question, we note that Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code provides that the period shall commence to run from the day on which the offense is committed or discovered. The title indicates that the provision merely purports to prescribe the manner of computing the period of prescription. In the computation of a period of time within which an act is to be done, the law in this jurisdiction has always directed the first day be excluded and the last included (See section 1, Rule 28 of the Rules of Court; section 13, Rev. Adm. Code and Art. 13, Civil Code of the Philippines). And in the case of Surbano vs. Gloria, 51 Phil., 415, where the question involved was whether an offense had prescribed, we held that from February 18 to March 15, 1927 only a period of 25 days elapsed, because we excluded the first day (February 18) and included the last day (March 15). The above method of computation was in force in this jurisdiction even before the advent of the American regime (Article 7, Spanish Civil Code). It is logical to presume, therefore, that the Legislature in enacting Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code meant or intended to mean that in the computation of the period provided for therein, the first day is to be excluded and the last one to be included, in accord with existing laws.
We find much sense in the argument of the Solicitor General that if the Civil Code of the Philippines is to be resorted to in the interpretation of the length of the month, so should it be resorted to in the computation of the period of prescription. Besides, Article 18 of the Civil Code (Article 16 of the old Civil Code) expressly directs that any deficiency in any special law (such as the Revised Penal Code) must be supplied by its provisions. As the Revised Penal Code is deficient in that it does not explicitly define how the period is to be computed, resort must be had to its Article 13, which contains in detail the manner of computing a period. We find, therefore, that the trial court committed error in not excluding the first day in the computation of the period of prescription of the offense.
The other question is whether a month mentioned in Article 90 should be considered as the calendar month and not the 30-day month. It is to be noted that no provision of the Revised Penal Code defines the length of the month. Article 7 of the old Civil Code provided that a month shall be understood as containing 30 days; but this concept was modified by section 13 of the Revised Administrative Code which provides that a month means the civil or calendar month and not the regular 30-day month (Gutierrez vs. Carpio, 53 Phil., 334). With the approval of the Civil Code of the Philippines (R.A. No. 386), however, we have reverted to the provisions of the Spanish Civil Code in accordance with which a month is to be considered as the regular 30-day month (Article 13). This provision of the new Civil Code has been intended for general application in the interpretation of the laws. As the offense charged in the information in the case at bar took place on May 28, 1953, after the new Civil Code had come to effect, this new provision should apply, and in accordance therewith the month in Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code should be understood to mean the regular 30 — day month.
In our conclusion that the term "month" used in the Revised Penal Code should be interpreted in the sense that the new Civil Code defines the said term, we find persuasive authority in a decision of the Supreme Court of Spain. In a case decided by it in the year 1887 (S. de 30 de Marzo de 1887), prior to the approval of the Civil Code of Spain, it had declared that when the law spoke of months, it meant the natural month or the solar month, in the absence of express provisions to the contrary. But after the promulgation of the Civil Code of Spain, which provided in its Article 7 a general rule for the interpretation of the laws, and with particular respect to months, that a month shall be understood as a 30-day month, said court held that the two months period for the prescription of a light offense should be understood to mean 60 days, a month being a 30-day month. (S. de 6 de abril de 1895, 3 Viada, p. 45). Similarly, we hold that in view of the express provisions of Article 13 of the new Civil Code the term "month" used in Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code should be understood to mean the 30-day month and not the solar or civil month.
We hold, therefore, that the offense charged in the information prescribed in 60 days, said period to be counted by excluding May 28, the commission of the offense, and we find that when the information was filed on July 27, 1953 the offense had not yet been prescribed because July 27 is the sixtieth day from May 29.
The order of dismissal appealed from is hereby reversed and the case ordered reinstated. Without costs.
Pablo, Acting C.J., Bengzon, Montemayor, Reyes, A., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion and Reyes, J.B.L., JJ., concur.
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