Remedial Law

People v. Lacson G.R. No. 149453. April 1, 2003 Criminal Procedure, Provisional Dismissal

FACTS:

Respondent and his co-accused were charged with multiple murder for the shooting and killing of eleven persons who were claimed to be members of the Kuratong Baleleng Gang.

The said cases docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 were provisionally dismissed with the express consent of the respondent as he himself moved for said provisional dismissal when he filed  his motion for judicial determination of probable cause and for examination of witnesses.

Respondent asserts that the new rule under Section 8 of Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure may be applied retroactively since there is no substantive right of the State that may be impaired by its application to the criminal cases in question.

According to the respondent, penal laws, either procedural or substantive, may be retroactively applied so long as they favor the accused. He asserts that the two-year period commenced to run on March 29, 1999 and lapsed two years thereafter was more than reasonable opportunity for the State to fairly indict him.

 

ISSUE:

Whether or not procedural laws may be applied retroactively.

 

RULING:

The Court agrees with the respondent that procedural laws may be applied retroactively. As applied to criminal law, procedural law provides or regulates the steps by which one who has committed a crime is to be punished.

In Tan, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, this Court held that:

Statutes regulating the procedure of the courts will be construed as applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage. Procedural laws are retroactive in that sense and to that extent. The fact that procedural statutes may somehow affect the litigants rights may not preclude their retroactive application to pending actions. The retroactive application of procedural laws is not violative of any right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected. Nor is the retroactive application of procedural statutes constitutionally objectionable. The reason is that as a general rule no vested right may attach to, nor arise from, procedural laws. It has been held that a person has no vested right in any particular remedy, and a litigant cannot insist on the application to the trial of his case, whether civil or criminal, of any other than the existing rules of procedure.

 

*****Sec. 8. Provisional dismissal. A case shall not be provisionally dismissed except with the express consent of the accused and with notice to the offended party.

The provisional dismissal of offenses punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six (6) years or a fine of any amount, or both, shall become permanent one (1) year after issuance of the order without the case having been revived. With respect to offenses punishable by imprisonment of more than six (6) years, their provisional dismissal shall become permanent two (2) years after issuance of the order without the case having been revived.

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