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Prescription of Crime

“x x x.

An evaluation of the foregoing jurisprudence24 on the matter reveals the following guidelines in the determination of the reckoning point for the

period of prescription of violations of RA 3019, viz:

1. As a general rule, prescription begins to run from the date of the commission of the offense.

2. If the date of the commission of the violation is not known, it shall be counted form the date of discovery thereof.

3. In determining whether it is the general rule or the exception that should apply in a particular case, the availability or suppression of the information relative to the crime should first be determined.

If the necessary information, data, or records based on which thecrime could be discovered is readily available to the public, the general rule applies. Prescription shall, therefore, run from the date of the commission of the crime. Otherwise, should martial law prevent the filing thereof or should information about the violation be suppressed, possibly through connivance, then the exception applies and the period of prescription shall be reckoned from the date of discovery thereof.

In the case at bar, involving as it does the grant of behest loans which We have recognized as a violation that, by their nature, could be concealed from the public eye by the simple expedient of suppressing their documentation,25 the second mode applies. We, therefore, count the running of the prescriptive period from the date of discovery thereof on January 4, 1993, when the Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding Committee reported to the President its findings and conclusions anent RHC’s loans. This being the case, the filing by the PCGG of its Affidavit-Complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman on January 6, 2003, a little over ten (10) years from the date of discovery of the crimes, is clearly belated. Undoubtedly, the ten-year period within which to institute the action has already lapsed, making it proper for the Ombudsman to dismiss petitioner’s complaint on the ground of prescription.

Simply put, and as correctly held by the Ombudsman, prescription has

already set in when petitioner PCGG filed the Affidavit-Complaint on

January 6, 2003.

x x x.”

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