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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No.

L-75079 January 26, 1989 SOLEMNIDAD M. BUAYA, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE WENCESLAO M. POLO, Presiding Judge, Branch XIX, Regional Trial) Court of Manila and the COUNTRY BANKERS INSURANCE CORPORATION, respondents. Apolinario M. Buaya for petitioner. Romeo G. Velasquez for respondent Country Bankers Insurance Corporation.

PARAS, J.: Petitioner, Solemnidad M. Buaya, in the instant petition for certiorari, seeks to annul and set aside the orders of denial issued by the respondent Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XIX on her Motion to Quash/Dismiss and Motion for Reconsideration in Criminal Case No. L-83-22252 entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Solemnidad M. Buaya." The Motion to Dismiss was anchored on the following grounds (a) the court has no jurisdiction over the case and (b) the subject matter is purely civil in nature. It appears that petitioner was an insurance agent of the private respondent, who was authorized to transact and underwrite insurance business and collect the corresponding premiums for and in behalf of the private respondent. Under the terms of the agency agreement, the petitioner is required to make a periodic report and accounting of her transactions and remit premium collections to the principal office of private respondent located in the City of Manila. Allegedly, an audit was conducted on petitioner's account which showed a shortage in the amount of P358,850.72. As a result she was charged with estafa in Criminal Case No. 83-22252, before the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XIX with the respondent Hon. Wenceslao Polo as the Presiding Judge. Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss. which motion

was denied by respondent Judge in his Order dated March 26, 1986. The subsequent motion for reconsideration of this order of denial was also denied. These two Orders of denial are now the subject of the present petition. It is the contention of petitioner that the Regional trial Court of Manila has no jurisdiction because she is based in Cebu City and necessarily the funds she allegedly misappropriated were collected in Cebu City. Petitioner further contends that the subject matter of this case is purely civil in nature because the fact that private respondent separately filed Civil Case No. 83-14931 involving the same alleged misappropriated amount is an acceptance that the subject transaction complained of is not proper for a criminal action. The respondents on the other hand, call for adherence to the consistent rule that the denial of a motion to dismiss or to quash, being interlocutory in character, cannot be questioned by certiorari and it cannot be the subject of appeal until final judgment or order rendered (See. 2, Rule 41, Rules of Court). the ordinary procedure to be followed in such a case is to enter a Plea, go to trial and if the decision is adverse, reiterate the issue on appeal from the final judgment (Newsweek Inc. v. IAC, 142 SCRA 171). The general rule is correctly stated. But this is subject to certain exceptions the reason is that it would be unfair to require the defendant or accused to undergo the ordeal and expense of a trial if the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter or offense or it is not the court of proper venue. Here, petitioner questions the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court of Manila to take cognizance of this criminal case for estafa. It is well-settled that the averments in the complaint or information characterize the crime to be prosecuted and the court before which it must be tried (Balite v. People, L-21475, Sept. 30,1966 cited in People v. Masilang, 142 SCRA 680). In Villanueva v. Ortiz, et al . (L-15344, May 30, 1960, 108 Phil, 493) this Court ruled that in order to determine the jurisdiction of the court

in criminal cases, the complaint must be examined for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not the facts set out therein and the punishment provided for by law fall within the jurisdiction of the court where the complaint is filed. The jurisdiction of courts in criminal cases is determined by the allegations of the complaint or information, and not by the findings the court may make after the trial (People v. Mission, 87 Phil. 641). The information in the case at reads as follows: The undersigned accuses Solemnidad Buaya of the crime of estafa, committed as follows: That during the period 1980 to June 15, 1982, inclusive, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud the Country Bankers Insurance Corporation represented by Elmer Banez duly organized and earth under the laws of the Philippine with principal address at 9th floor, G.R. Antonio Bldg., T.M. Kalaw, Ermita, in said City, in the following manner, to wit. the said having been authorized to act as insurance agent of said corporation, among whose duties were to remit collections due from customers thereat and to account for and turn over the same to the said Country Bankers Insurance Corporation represented by Elmer Banez, as soon as possible or immediately upon demand, collected and received the amount of P368,850.00 representing payments of insurance premiums from customers, but herein accused, once in possession of said amount, far from complying with her aforesaid obligation, failed and refused to do so and with intent to defraud, absconded with the whole amount thereby misappropriated, misapplied and converted the said amount of P358,850.00 to her own personal used and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of said Country Bankers Insurance Corporation in the amount of P358,850.00 Philippine Currency. CONTRARY TO LAW. (p. 44, Rollo) Section 14(a), Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court provides: In all criminal prosecutions the action shall be instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or province wherein the offense was committed or any of the essential elements thereof took place.

The subject information charges petitioner with estafa committed "during the period 1980 to June 15, 1982 inclusive in the City of Manila, Philippines . . . ." (p. 44, Rollo) Clearly then, from the very allegation of the information the Regional Trial Court of Manila has jurisdiction. Besides, the crime of estafa is a continuing or transitory offense which may be prosecuted at the place where any of the essential elements of the crime took place. One of the essential elements of estafa is damage or prejudice to the offended party. The private respondent has its principal place of business and office at Manila. The failure of the petitioner to remit the insurance premiums she collected allegedly caused damage and prejudice to private respondent in Manila. Anent petitioners other contention that the subject matter is purely civil in nature, suffice it to state that evidentiary facts on this point have still to be proved. WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit The case is remanded to the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch XIX for further proceedings. SO ORDERED. Melencio-Herrera, (Chairperson), Padilla, Sarmiento and Regalado JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 45815 May 18, 1990 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. LIBERTAD LAGON and HON. JUDGE ISIDRO O. BARRIOS, AS PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE CITY COURT OF ROXAS CITY, respondents.

FELICIANO, J.: On 7 July 1976, a criminal information was filed with the City Court of Roxas City and docketed as Criminal Case No. 7362, charging private respondent Libertad Lagon with the crime of estafa under paragraph 2(d) of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code. The information charged that the accused had allegedly issued a check in the amount of P4,232.80 as payment for goods or merchandise purchased, knowing that she did not have sufficient funds to cover the check, which check therefore subsequently bounced. The case proceeded to trial and the prosecution commenced the presentation of its evidence. However, in an Order dated 2 December 1976, the City Court dismissed the information upon the ground that the penalty prescribed by law for the offense charged was beyond the court's authority to impose. The judge held that the jurisdiction of a court to try a criminal action is determined by the law in force at the time of the institution of the action, and not by the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime. At the time of the alleged commission of the crime in April 1975, jurisdiction over the offense was vested by law in the City Court. However, by the time the criminal information was filed, paragraph 2(d) of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code had already been amended and the penalty imposable upon a person accused thereunder increased, which penalty was beyond the City Court's authority to impose. Accordingly, the court dismissed the information without prejudice to its being refiled in the proper court.

Hence this Petition for Review brought by the People, arguing that the City Court of Roxas City had jurisdiction over Criminal Case No. 7362 and that it had erred in issuing its Order dismissing the case. Because the Petition for Review was signed by the City Fiscal and Assistant City Fiscal of Roxas City as counsel for the People, the Court referred the petition to the Office of the Solicitor General for comment. Responding to the Court's resolution, the then acting Solicitor General Vicente Mendoza stated that the Office of the Solicitor General, having been previously consulted by the Assistant City Fiscal of Roxas City, agreed with the position taken by the latter that the City Court had jurisdiction over the criminal case involved, and asked that the petition be given due course. After deliberation on the instant Petition for Review, the Court considers that petitioner has failed to show that the City Court had committed reversible error in dismissing the criminal information in Criminal Case No. 7362 without prejudice to its refiling in the proper court. Under the penultimate paragraph of Section 87 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended, the law governing the subject matter jurisdiction of municipal and city courts in criminal cases in 1975 and 1976, "[municipal judges in the capitals of provinces and sub-provinces and judges of city courts shall have like jurisdiction as the Court of First Instance to try parties charged with an offense within their respective jurisdictions, in which the penalty provided by law does not exceed prision correccional or imprisonment for not more than six (6) years or fine not exceeding P6,000.00 or both . . . ." It appears that at the time of the commission of the offense charged on 5 April 1975, the penalty imposable for the offense charged under paragraph 2(d) in relation to the third sub-paragraph of the first paragraph, Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, was arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period; at that time therefore, the offense clearly fell within the jurisdiction of the City Court of Roxas City. At the time of the institution of the criminal prosecution on 7 July 1976, the penalty imposable for the offense charged in Criminal Case No. 7362 had been increased by P.D. No. 818 (effective 22 October 1975) to prision mayor in its medium period.

It is firmly settled doctrine that the subject matter jurisdiction of a court in criminal law matters is properly measured by the law in effect at the time of the commencement of a criminal action, rather than by the law in effect at the time of the commission of the offense charged. 1 Thus, in accordance with the above rule, jurisdiction over the instant case pertained to the then Court of First Instance of Roxas City considering that P.D. No. 818 had increased the imposable penalty for the offense charged in Criminal Case No. 7362 to a level-in excess of the minimum penalty which a city court could impose. The real question raised by the petitioner is: would application of the above-settled doctrine to the instant case not result in also applying Presidential Decree No. 818 to the present case, in disregard of the rule against retroactivity of penal laws? Article 22 of the Revised Penal Code permits penal laws to have retroactive effect only "insofar as they favor the person guilty of a felony, who is not a habitual criminal, . . . " We do not believe so. In the first place, subject-matter jurisdiction in criminal cases is determined by the authority of the court to impose the penalty imposable under the applicable statute given the allegations of a criminal information. In People v. Purisima, 2 the Court stressed that: xxx xxx xxx
. . . The issue here is one of jurisdiction, of a court's legal competence to try a case ab origine. In criminal prosecutions, it is settled that the jurisdiction of the court is not determined by what may be meted out to the offender after trial, or even by the result of the evidence that would be presented at the trial, but by the extent of the penalty which the law imposes for the misdemeanor, crime or violation charged in the complaint. If the facts recited in the complaint and the punishment provided for by law are sufficient to show that the court in which the complaint is presented has jurisdiction, that court must assume jurisdiction. 3 (Citations omitted; Emphasis supplied.)

The same rule was set forth and amplified in People v. Buissan, the following terms: xxx xxx xxx

in

. . . in criminal prosecutions, jurisdiction of the court is not determined by what may be meted out to the offender after trial (People v. Cuello, 1 SCRA 814) or even by the result of the evidence that would be presented during the trial (People v. Co Hick 62 Phil. 503) but by the extent of the penalty which the law imposes, together with other legal obligations, on the basis of the facts as recited in the complaint or information (People v. Purisima, 69 SCRA 347) constitutive of the offense charged, for once jurisdiction is acquired by the court in which the information is filed, it is retained regardless whether the evidence proves a lesser offense than that charged in the information (People v. Mision, 48 O.G. 1330) 5 (Emphasis supplied.)

Thus, it may be that after trial, a penalty lesser than the maximum imposable under the statute is proper under the specific facts and circumstances proven at the trial. In such a case, that lesser penalty may be imposed by the trial court (provided it had subject-matter jurisdiction under the rule above referred to) even if the reduced penalty otherwise falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of an inferior court. In People v. Buissan, 6 the Court also said: xxx xxx xxx
. . . It is unquestionable that the Court of First Instance, taking cognizance of a criminal case coming under its jurisdiction, may, after trial, impose a penalty that is proper for a crime within the exclusive competence of a municipal or city court as the evidence would warrant. It may not be said, therefore, that the Court of First Instance would be acting without jurisdiction if in a simple seduction case, it would impose penalty of not more than six months of imprisonment, if said case, for the reason already adverted to, be held to fall under the jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance, not a city or municipal court. 7 (Emphasis supplied.)

In the case at bar, the increased penalty provided for the offense charged in Criminal Case No. 7362 by P.D. No. 818 (prison mayor in its medium period) is obviously heavier than the penalty provided for the same offense originally imposed by paragraph 2(d) of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code (up to prision correccional in its minimum period). Should the criminal information be refiled in the proper court, that is,

the proper Regional Trial Court, that court may not impose that more onerous penalty upon private respondent Libertad Lagon (assuming the evidence shows that the offense was committed before 22 October 1975). But the Regional Trial Court would remain vested with subject-matter jurisdiction to try and decide the (refiled) case even though the penalty properly imposable, given the date of the commission of the offense charged, should be the lower penalty originally provided for in paragraph 2(d) of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code which is otherwise within the exclusive jurisdiction of the City Court of Roxas City. In other words, the circumstance that P.D. No. 818 would be inapplicable to the refiled case would not result in the Regional Trial Court losing subject-matter jurisdiction, nor in the case falling back into the City Court's exclusive jurisdiction. WHEREFORE, the Court Resolved to DENY the Petition for Review for lack of merit. The Order dated 2 December 1976 of the public respondent Presiding Judge of the City Court of Roxas City is hereby AFFIRMED. No costs. Fernan, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur.

SECOND DIVISION [G.R. No. 172142, October 17, 2007] DAVID B. CAMPANANO, JR., PETITIONER, VS. JOSE ANTONIO A. DATUIN, RESPONDENT.[1] DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.: Assailed via the instant Petition for Review is the Court of Appeals Decision[2] of December 9, 2005 which set aside the August 20, 2004 Resolution[3] of the Department of Justice (DOJ) dismissing the petition for review filed by respondent Jose Antonio Datuin. On complaint for Estafa by Seishin International Corporation, represented by its president-herein petitioner David B. Campanano, Jr.,[4] an Information for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 was filed against respondent. After trial, respondent was convicted of Estafa by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 71 of Pasig City by Decision of May 3, 1999.[5] Respondent's appeal before the Court of Appeals, and eventually with this Court, was dismissed and the decision became final and executory[6] on October 24, 2003. Later claiming that the complaint of Seishin International Corporation against him was "false, unfounded and malicious" in light of newly discovered (by respondent) evidence, respondent filed a complaint for Incriminating Against Innocent Persons, punishable under Article 363 of the Revised Penal Code, before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City against petitioner and a certain Yasunobu Hirota.[7] The pertinent portions of respondent's complaint-affidavit read: I, JOSE ANTONIO A. DATUIN, of legal age, Filipino, married, with residence and postal address at No. 1 Commonwealth Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, under oath, depose and state: xxxx 2. I was charged by Seishin International Corporation, represented by its President, Mr. David Campanano, Jr. with the crime of Estafa before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasig City, by virtue of a criminal information filed against me by said prosecution office with the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City. x x x xxxx 5. In a decision dated May 3, 1999, the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City,

Branch 71, rendered a Decision convicting me (accused-complainant) of estafa x x x; xxxx 13. Meanwhile, sometime in July 15, 2003, I had my office rented, vacated the same, and had all of my things, including my attach case, all my records, and other personal belongings, transferred and brought to my house; that while I was sorting and classifying all my things, including the records, as well as those in the attach case, I found the CASH VOUCHER evidencing my cash payment of the two (2) roadrollers, Sakai brand, which I purchased from Mr. Yasonobu Hirota, representing Seishin International Corporation, in the amount of Two Hundred Thousand (P200,000.00) Pesos. The cash voucher was dated June 28, 1993, and it was signed by me and Mr. Hirota. A copy of the said cash voucher is hereto attached as ANNEX "H" hereof; 14. In light of this newly discovered evidence, the complaint of Seishin International Corporation[,] represented by Mr. David Campanano, Jr.[,] and the testimony of the latter in support of the complaint are false, unfounded and malicious because they imputed to me a crime of Estafa which in the first place I did not commit, as evidenced by the fact that the subject two (2) units of roadrollers, Sakai brand, subject of the criminal complaint before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasig City by the corporation through Mr. Campanano, and the information filed in court, had been purchased by me in cash from the said corporation and had already been paid on June 28, 1993. While I testified also in court, my testimony arose from my having forgotten that I have already fully paid for the said two units of roadrollers, especially that I could not find the necessary document consisting of the cash voucher in support of my defense. I could not say that I have fully paid for the said units of roadrollers because at that time I was not in possession of any evidence or document to support my claim. 15. In filing the complaint for Estafa - fully knowing that it was baseless and without factual or legal basis, Messrs. Campanano, Jr. and Mr. Hirota should be criminally liable for the crime of Incriminating Innocent Persons punishable under Article 363 of the Revised Penal Code. x x x[8] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) By Resolution of January 20, 2004, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City[9] dismissed respondent's complaint for incriminating innocent person in this wise: It appearing that the case of estafa was filed in Pasig City, and the testimony given by respondent David Campaano, Jr. was also made in Pasig City, this office has no jurisdiction on the above-entitled complainant.

Granting en arguendo that this office has jurisdiction over this case, the undersigned investigating prosecutor finds no basis to indict the respondents of the crime imputed to them for it is an established fact that the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City finds merit in the estafa case filed by Seishin International Corporation, represented by its president, herein respondent David Campaano, Jr. In fact, the petition for review, including the supplemental motion for reconsideration filed by the herein complainant to [sic] the Honorable Supreme Court was denied for lack of merit and with an order of Entry of Final Judgment. As to the discovery of the alleged new evidence, the cash voucher, dated June 28, 1993[,] it is not this office that should determine the materiality or immateriality of it.[10] (Underscoring supplied) By petition for review, respondent elevated the case to the DOJ which dismissed the petition outright by Resolution[11] of August 20, 2004, holding that "[it] found no such error committed by the prosecutor that would justify the reversal of the assailed resolution which is in accord with the law and evidence on the matter." Respondent's motion for reconsideration was likewise denied by DOJ Resolution[12] of April 11, 2005. The Court of Appeals, however, set aside the resolutions of the DOJ by Decision of December 9, 2005, the fallo of which reads: WHEREFORE, the petition is given due course, and the assailed Resolutions of the Department of Justice are hereby SET ASIDE. The case is directed to be remanded to the City Prosecutor's Office of Quezon City for further investigation.[13] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) Hence, the present petition, petitioner faulting the Court of Appeals in the main: . . . IN RULING THAT THE COUNTER-AFFIDAVIT OF PETITIONER DAVID B. CAMPANANO EXECUTED IN QUEZON CITY ON NOVEMBER 30, 2003 AND NOT THE AFFIDAVIT-COMPLAINT OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT JOSE ANTONIO DATUIN THAT [sic] IS DETERMINATIVE OF THE JURISDICTION OF QUEZON CITY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE TO CONDUCT PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION ON THE COMPLAINT OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT DATUIN AGAINST PETITIONER INCRIMINATING AGAINST INNOCENT PERSONS. xxxx . . . IN RULING THAT THE DISMISSAL OF THE COMPLAINT-AFFIDAVIT OF RESPONDENT DATUIN BY THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CONSTITUTES AN ABUSE OF DISCRETION SINCE THE COMPLAINT-AFFIDAVIT APPEARS TO BE MERITORIOUS.[14] (Underscoring supplied) The petition is impressed with merit. It is doctrinal that in criminal cases, venue is an essential element of jurisdiction;[15] and that the jurisdiction of a court over a criminal case is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information.[16]

For purposes of determining the place where the criminal action is to be instituted, Section 15(a) of Rule 110 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure of 2000 provides that "[s]ubject to existing laws, the criminal action shall be instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or territory where the offense was committed or where any of its essential ingredients occurred." This is a fundamental principle, the purpose of which is not to compel the defendant to move to, and appear in, a different court from that of the province where the crime was committed as it would cause him great inconvenience in looking for his witnesses and other evidence in another place.[17] The complaint-affidavit for incriminating innocent person filed by respondent with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City on August 28, 2003 does not allege that the crime charged or any of its essential ingredients was committed in Quezon City. The only reference to Quezon City in the complaint-affidavit is that it is where respondent resides.[18] Respondent's complaint-affidavit was thus properly dismissed by the City Prosecutor of Quezon City for lack of jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals' conclusion-basis of its reversal of the DOJ Resolutions that since petitioner's November 20, 2003 Counter-Affidavit[19] to respondent's complaint for incriminating innocent person was executed in Quezon City, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City had acquired jurisdiction to conduct preliminary investigation of the case is thus erroneous. In any event, the allegations in the complaint-affidavit do not make out a clear probable cause of incriminating innocent person under Article 363 of the Revised Penal Code. Article 363 of the Revised Penal Code penalizes "[a]ny person who, by any act not constituting perjury, shall directly incriminate or impute to an innocent person the commission of a crime." The crime known as incriminating innocent person has the following elements: (1) the offender performs an act; (2) by such act he directly incriminates or imputes to an innocent person the commission of a crime; and (3) such act does not constitute perjury.[20] The pertinent portion of respondent's complaint-affidavit reads: 14. In light of this newly discovered evidence, the complaint of Seishin International Corporation[,] represented by Mr. David Campanano, Jr.[,] and the testimony of the latter in support of the complaint are false, unfounded and malicious because they imputed to me a crime of Estafa which in the first place I did not commit, as evidenced by the fact that the subject two (2) units of roadrollers, Sakai brand, subject of the criminal complaint before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasig City by the corporation through Mr. Campanano, and the information filed in court, had been purchased by me in cash from the said corporation and had already been paid on June 28, 1993.

(Emphasis supplied) Article 363 does not, however, contemplate the idea of malicious prosecution - someone prosecuting or instigating a criminal charge in court.[21] It refers "to the acts of PLANTING evidence and the like, which do not in themselves constitute false prosecution but tend directly to cause false prosecutions."[22] Apropos is the following ruling of this Court in Ventura v. Bernabe:[23] Appellants do not pretend, neither have they alleged in their complaint that appellee has planted evidence against them. At the most, what appellee is alleged to have done is that he had filed the criminal complaint above-quoted against appellant Joaquina Ventura without justifiable cause or motive and had caused the same to be prosecuted, with him (appellee) testifying falsely as witness for the prosecution. These acts do not constitute incriminatory machination, particularly, because Article 363 of the Revised Penal Code punishing said crime expressly excludes perjury as a means of committing the same. Evidently, petitioner may not, under respondent's complaint-affidavit, be charged with the crime of incriminating innocent person under Article 363. Parenthetically, respondent's conviction bars even the filing of a criminal case for false testimony against petitioner.[24] WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Court of Appeals Decision of December 9, 2005 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The complaint of respondent for Incriminating Innocent Person filed against petitioner DAVID B. CAMPANANO, JR. is DISMISSED. SO ORDERED. Quisumbing, (Chairperson), Carpio, Tinga, and Velasco, Jr., JJ., concur.

THIRD DIVISION
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, 192466 Appellee, G.R. No. Present: VELASCO, JR., J., Chairperson, - versus PERALTA, ABAD, VILLARAMA, JR.,* and MENDOZA , JJ. ALEJO TAROY y TARNATE, Appellant. Promulgated: September 7, 2011 x -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION
ABAD, J.:

Apart from the question of credibility of testimonies in a prosecution for rape, this case resolves the question of proof of the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court. The Facts and the Case The public prosecutor charged Alejo Taroy y Tarnate (Taroy) with two counts of rape in Criminal Cases 02-CR-4671 and 02-CR-4672 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of La Trinidad, Benguet.[1] DES[2] was the eldest daughter of MILA[3] by her first marriage. MILA married Taroy in 1997 upon the death of her first husband.[4] The couple lived with MILAs children in Pucsusan Barangay, Itogon, Benguet, at the boundary of Baguio City.[5] DES testified that she was alone in the house on August 10, 1997 doing some cleaning since her mother was at work and her two siblings were outside playing. When Taroy entered the house, he locked the door, closed the windows, removed his clothes, and ordered DES to remove hers. When she resisted, Taroy poked a knife at her head and forced her to submit to his bestial desires. Taroy warned her afterwards not to tell anyone about it, lest MILA and her siblings would suffer some

harm. DES was 10 years old then.[6] DES testified that Taroy sexually abused her again in September 1998. This time, he entered her room, locked the door, closed the windows, undressed himself, and ordered her to do the same. When she refused, Taroy pointed a knife at her. This compelled her to yield to him. Four years later or on November 1, 2002, when DES was 15, she told her aunt and MILA about what had happened between Taroy and her. They accompanied DES to the National Bureau of Investigation to complain. MILA and a certain Alumno testified that they later accompanied DES to the hospital for examination. MILA corroborated DES testimony regarding how she revealed to her and an aunt the details of the rape incidents. The doctor who examined DES testified that the latter had two narrow notches in her hymen at three oclock and five oclock positions. She explained that these notches or V-shaped or sharp indentions over the hymenal edges suggested a history of previous blunt force or trauma possibly caused by the insertion of an erect male penis. For the defense, Taroy denied raping DES on the occasions mentioned. He averred that the testimony

was a fabrication made upon the prodding of her aunt who disliked him. The RTC found Taroy guilty of two counts of rape and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. It also ordered him to pay DES for each count: P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P75,000.00 as moral damages, and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages.[7] The RTC found the testimony of DES credible and worthy of belief. Taroy challenged the Benguet RTCs jurisdiction over the crimes charged, he having testified that their residence when the alleged offenses took place was in Pucsusan Barangay, Baguio City. The RTC held, however, that Taroys testimony that their residence was in Baguio City did not strip the court of its jurisdiction since he waived the jurisdictional requirement. On January 19, 2010 the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the decision of the RTC.[8] The CA gave weight to the RTCs assessment of DES credibility and found no evil motive in her. The CA also held that the prosecution has sufficiently established the jurisdiction of the RTC through the testimony of MILA, DES, and Alumno. Taroy seeks his acquittal from this Court.

The Issues Presented The issues presented to the Court are: 1. Whether or not the RTC of La Trinidad, Benguet, has jurisdiction to hear and decide the cases of rape against Taroy; and 2. Whether or not the prosecution has proved his guilt in the two cases beyond reasonable doubt. The Courts Rulings One. Venue is jurisdictional in criminal cases. It can neither be waived nor subjected to stipulation. The right venue must exist as a matter of law.[9] Thus, for territorial jurisdiction to attach, the criminal action must be instituted and tried in the proper court of the municipality, city, or province where the offense was committed or where any of its essential ingredients took place.[10] The Informations[11] filed with the RTC of La Trinidad state that the crimes were committed in the victim and the offenders house in City Limit, Tuding, Municipality of Itogon, Province of Benguet. This allegation conferred territorial jurisdiction over the subject offenses on the RTC of La Trinidad, Benguet.

The testimonies of MILA and DES as well as the affidavit of arrest[12] point to this fact. Clearly, Taroys uncorroborated assertion that the subject offenses took place in Baguio City is not entitled to belief. Besides, he admitted during the pre-trial in the case that it was the RTC of La Trinidad that had jurisdiction to hear the case.[13] Taken altogether, that RTCs jurisdiction to hear the case is beyond dispute. Two. What is necessary for the prosecution to ensure conviction is not absolute certainty but only moral certainty that the accused is guilty of the crime charged.[14] Here, the prosecution has sufficiently proved the guilt of Taroy beyond reasonable doubt. DES testimony is worthy of belief, she having no illmotive to fabricate what she said against her stepfather. More, contrary to the claims of Taroy, there is nothing in the testimony of DES that would elicit suspicion as to the veracity of her story. For one thing, the fact that she did not shout for help or resist the sexual advances of Taroy does not disprove the fact that he raped her. Women who experience traumatic and terrifying experiences such as rape do not react in a uniform pattern of hysteria and breakdown. Lastly, there is nothing unusual for DES to remain in the family dwelling despite the incidents that had happened to her. She was just a child. Where else

would she go except stay with her mother who happened to be married to the man who abused her? While we do affirm the guilt of Taroy for the crime of rape, we modify the award of exemplary damages in accordance with People v. Araojo.[15] The prosecution has sufficiently established the relationship of Taroy to the victim, as well as the minority of DES necessitating the increase of the award of exemplary damages from P25,000.00 to P30,000.00. WHEREFORE, this Court DISMISSES the appeal and AFFIRMS the Court of Appeals decision in CA-G.R. CR-HC 03510 dated January 19, 2010 with the MODIFICATION that the award of exemplary damages be increased from P25,000.00 to P30,000.00.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC

G.R. Nos. L-32282-83 November 26, 1970 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. HON. MARIO J. GUTIERREZ, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur, CAMILO PILOTIN, FRANCISCO PIANO, DELFIN PIANO PEDRO PATAO, VINCENT CRISOLOGO, CAMILO PIANO, CAMILO PATAO, PEDRING PIANO, ISIDRO PUGAL, ANTONIO TABULDO, LORENZO PERALTA, VENANCIO PACLEB ANTONIO PIANO, FERMIN PUGAL, CARLITO PUGAL, FLOR PIANO, ERNING ABANO and EIGHTY-TWO (82) JOHN DOES, respondents. Office of the Solicitor General Felix Q. Antonio, Assistant Solicitor General Conrado T. Limcaoco, Solicitor Eduardo C. Abaya and Special Attorney Juan A. Sison for petitioners. Adaza, Adaza and Adaza for respondent Erning Abano. Crisologo Law Office and Pedro Quadra for respondent Camilo Pilotin. Juan T. David for respondent Vincent Crisologo. Augusto Kalaw as private prosecutor.

REYES, J.B.L., J.: Petition for writs of certiorari and mandamus, with preliminary injunction, filed by the Solicitor General and State Prosecutors, to annul and set aside the order of Judge Mario J. Gutierrez of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur (respondent herein), dated 20 July 1970, denying the prosecution's urgent motion to transfer Criminal Case Nos. 47-V and 48-V of said Court of First Instance, entitled "People vs. Pilotin, et al.," to the Circuit Criminal Court of the Second

Judicial District; to direct the respondent Judge to effectuate such transfer; and to restrain the trial of the cases aforesaid in the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur, sitting in Vigan, capital of the province. In the morning of 22 May 1970, a group of armed persons descended on barrio Ora Centro, municipality of Bantay, Province of Ilocos Sur, and set fire to various inhabited houses therein. On the afternoon of the same day, in barrio Ora Este of the same municipality and province, several residential houses were likewise burned by the group, resulting in the destruction of various houses and in the death of an old woman named Vicenta Balboa. After investigation by the authorities, the provincial fiscal, with several state prosecutors assigned by the Department of Justice to collaborate with him, on 10 June 1970 filed in the Court of First Instance of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, two informations (Criminal Cases 47-V for arson with homicide and 48-V for arson) charging that the seventeen private respondents herein, together with 82 other unidentified persons, "confederating, conspiring, confabulating and helping one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously burn or cause to be burned several residential houses, knowing the said houses to be occupied" and belonging to certain persons named in the filed informations in barrios Ora Este and Ora Centro, Bantay, Ilocos Sur (Petition, Annexes B and B-1). Accused Camilo Pilotin and Vincent Crisologo furnished bail, and on 15 June 1970 voluntarily appeared before respondent Judge Gutierrez, were arraigned and pleaded not guilty. Trial was then set for 27, 28 and 29 July 1970. It appears that on the same day, 15 June, the Secretary of Justice issued Administrative Order No. 221, authorizing Judge Lino Anover, of the Circuit Criminal Court of the Second Judicial District, with official station at San Fernando, La Union, to hold a special term in Ilocos Sur, from and after 1 July 1970. Three days thereafter, on 18 June 1970, the Secretary further issued Administrative Order No. 226, authorizing Judge Mario Gutierrez to transfer Criminal Cases Nos. 47-V and 48-V to the Circuit Criminal Court, "in the interest of justice and pursuant to Republic Act No. 5179, as implemented by Administrative Order Nos. 258 and 274" of the Department of Justice. On 22 June 1970, the prosecution moved the respondent judge for a transfer of cases 47-V and 48-V to the Circuit Criminal Court,

invoking the Administrative Orders just mentioned and calling attention to the circumstance that they were issued at the instance of the witnesses seeking transfer of the hearing from Vigan to either San Fernando, La Union, or Baguio City, for reasons of security and personal safety, as shown in their affidavits. The accused vigorously opposed such transfer, and on 20 July 1970, the respondent judge declined the transfer sought, on the ground that Administrative Order No. 258 only provided for transfer of cases to the Circuit Criminal Court where the interest of justice required it for the more expeditious disposal of the cases, and in the cases involved the accused had already pleaded; that if the objective of the proposed transfer was to subsequently obtain a change of venue from the Supreme Court under Section 4 of Republic Act No. 5179 the same should have been done right at the very inception of these cases. In view of the lower court's denial of the motion to transfer the cases to the Circuit Criminal Court, the prosecution resorted to Us for writs of certiorari and mandamus, charging abuse of discretion and praying this Court to set aside the order of denial of the transfer and to compel the respondent Court of First Instance to remand the cases to the Circuit Criminal Court of the Second Judicial District, as well as to authorize the latter to try the cases (47-V and 48-V) at either San Fernando, La Union, or Baguio City. Respondents in their answer denied any abuse of discretion in view of the fact that the Administrative Order No. 226 merely authorized the court below, but did not require or command it, to transfer the cases in question to the Circuit Criminal Court, and likewise denied that the circumstances justified any such transfer. At petitioners' request this Court enjoined the respondent Judge Gutierrez from proceeding with the trial of the cases until further orders. We agree with respondents that the present laws do not confer upon the Secretary of Justice power to determine what court should hear specific cases. Any such power, even in the guise of administrative regulation of executive affairs, trenches upon the time-honored separation of the Executive and the Judiciary; and while not directly depriving the courts of their independence, it would endanger the

rights and immunities of the accused or civil party. It could be much too easily transformed into a means of predetermining the outcome of individual cases, so as to produce a result in harmony with the Administration's preferences. The creation by Republic Act No. 5179 of the Circuit Criminal Courts for the purpose of alleviating the burden of the regular Courts of First Instance, and to accelerate the disposition of criminal cases pending or to be filed therein, nowhere indicates an intent to permit the transfer of preselected individual cases to the circuit courts. Neither do Administrative Orders Nos. 258 and 274 evidence any such intention; particularly since Administrative Order No. 258, Series of 1968, in Section 2 of its Part V, as confirmed by Administrative Order No. 274 of the same year, in Section 3 of Part III thereof, provides that the transfer to Circuit Criminal Courts of cases pending in the regular Courts of First Instance should be effected by raffle, chance here operating to nullify any executive arbitration of what particular cases should be apportioned to either tribunal. The very terms of Administrative Order No. 226, issued on 18 June 1970 by Secretary of Justice Makasiar, relied upon by the petitioners, in merely authorizing, and not directing, Judges Arciaga and Gutierrez of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur to transfer Criminal Cases Nos. 44-V and 47-V (People vs. Pilotin, et al.) to the Circuit Criminal Court of the Second Judicial District, reveals that the Secretary himself was aware of the impropriety of imperatively directing transfer of specified cases. Respondent Judge Gutierrez, therefore in construing Administrative Order No. 226 as permissive and not mandatory, acted within the limits of his discretion and violated neither the law nor the Executive Orders heretofore mentioned. It is unfortunate, however, that in refusing to consider Department Administrative Order No. 226 of the Secretary of Justice as mandatory respondent Judge Gutierrez failed to act upon the contention of the prosecuting officers that the cases against private respondents herein should be transferred to the Circuit Criminal Court of the Second Judicial District because a miscarriage of justice was impending, in view of the refusal of the prosecution witnesses to testify in the court sitting in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, where they felt their lives would be endangered. This claim was buttressed by the affidavits of the injured parties and prosecution witnesses, reaffirming their fear to appear in Vigan to testify in cases 47-V and 48-V and

expressing their willingness to testify if the cases are heard outside of Ilocos Sur, where they can be free from tension and terrorism (Petition, Annex J). The fear thus expressed can not be considered fanciful and unfounded when account is taken of the circumstances that the informations filed in the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur show that of the one hundred armed participants in the burning of the houses at barrios Ora Este and Ora Centro, Municipality of Bantay, some eighty-two (82) are still unidentified and at large; that one of the accused, private respondent Vincent Crisologo, belongs to an influential family in the province, being concededly the son of the Congressman for the first district of Ilocos Sur and of the lady Governor that the reluctant witnesses are themselves the complainants in the criminal cases, and, therefore, have reasons to fear that attempts will be made to silence them; that it is not shown that the Executive branch is able or willing to give these witnesses full security during the trial and for a reasonable time thereafter, that even if armed security escorts were to be provided, the same would be no guarantee against the possibility of murderous assault against the affiant witnesses, as recent events have proved; that Constabulary reports (Annex H) show that between 1 January and 31 May 1970 no less than 78 murders have been reported committed in said province, of which number only 21 were solved; and, finally, that the promotion and confirmation of respondent Judge Mario Gutierrez from Clerk of Court to Judge of the Court of First Instance of the Second Judicial District, Branch III, was actively supported by Congressman and Governor Crisologo, parents of accused Vincent Crisologo (Annexes H, H-1, and K to N-2 to petitioner's supplemental memorandum). This just refusal to testify in Ilocos Sur manifested by the complaining witnesses, who had on a previous occasion freely given evidence before the investigators in Manila, renders manifest the imperious necessity of transferring the place of trial to a site outside of Ilocos Sur, if the cases are to be judicially inquired into conformably to the interest of truth and justice and the State is to be given a fair chance to present its side of the case. The respondents vigorously contend that a transfer of the trial site can not be made, because it is a long standing rule of criminal procedure in these Islands that one who commits a crime is

amenable therefor only in the jurisdiction where the crime is committed, for the reason pointed out in U.S. vs. Cunanan, 26 Phil. 376, and People vs. Mercado, 65 Phil. 665, that the jurisdiction of a Court of First Instance in the Philippines is limited to certain welldefined territory and they can not take jurisdiction of persons charged with one offense committed outside of that limited territory, and they invoke Rule 110, Section 14 (a), of the Revised Rules of Court providing that "in all criminal prosecutions the action shall be instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or province wherein the offense was committed or any one of the essential ingredient thereof took place." It is well to note that this Court has explained in Beltran vs. Ramos, 96 Phil. 149, 150, that the purpose of the rule invoked by accused respondents herein was "not to compel the defendant to move to and appear in a different court from that of the province where the crime was committed, as it would cause him great inconvenience in looking for his witnesses and other evidence in another place." Where the convenience of the accused is opposed by that of the prosecution, as in the case at bar, it is but logical that the court should have power to decide where the balance of convenience or inconvenience lies, and to determine the most suitable place of the trial according to the exigencies of truth and impartial justice. In the particular case before Us, to compel the prosecution to proceed to trial in a locality where its witnesses will not be at liberty to reveal what they know is to make a mockery of the judicial process, and to betray the very purpose for which courts have been established. Since the rigorous application of the general principle of Rule 110, Section 14 (a), would result here in preventing a fair and impartial inquiry into the actual facts of the case, it must be admitted that the exigencies of justice demand that the general rule relied upon by accused respondents should yield to occasional exceptions wherever there are weighty reasons therefor. Otherwise, the rigor of the law would become the highest injustice "summum jus, summa in juria." The respondents accused can not complain that to transfer the trial to a site where the prosecution's witnesses can feel free to reveal what they know would be equivalent to railroading them into a conviction.

Because regardless of the place where its evidence is to be heard, the prosecution will be always obligated to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The scales of justice clearly lean in favor of the prosecution being given full opportunity to lay its case before a proper arbiter: for a dismissal of the charges for lack of evidence is a verdict that the prosecution can neither challenge nor appeal. We must thus reject the idea that our courts, faced by an impasse of the kind now before Us, are to confess themselves impotent to further the cause of justice. The Constitution has vested the Judicial Power in the Supreme Court and such inferior courts as may be established by law (Article VIII, Section 13), and such judicial power connotes certain incidental and inherent attributes reasonably necessary for an effective administration of justice. The courts "can by appropriate means do all things necessary to preserve and maintain every quality needful to make the judiciary an effective institution of government" (Borromeo vs. Mariano, 41 Phil. 322). One of these incidental and inherent powers of courts is that of transferring the trial of cases from one court to another of equal rank in a neighboring site, whenever the imperative of securing a fair and impartial trial, or of preventing a miscarriage of justice, so demands. This authority was early recognized in England as inhering in the courts of justice even prior to the eighteenth century. The opinion in Crocker vs. Justices of the Superior Court, 208 Mass. 162, 21 Ann. Cases 1067, has shown how the eminent Lord Chief Justice Mansfield, in Rex vs. Cowle (Eng.) 2 Burr 834, decided in 1759, said that, in this respect, "the law is clear and uniform as far back as it can be traced." And in Reg. vs. Conway, 7 Jr. C. J. 507, the question was fully discussed, and all the judges appear to have agreed as to the power of the court, Cramption, Jr., saying at page 525: There is another common-law right, equally open to defendants and prosecutors, ... that where it appears that either party cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial in the proper county, then this court ... has jurisdiction to take the case out of the proper county, as it is called, and to bring it into an indifferent county ... This jurisdiction to change

the venue ... has been exercised by this court from a very early period. We have reported cases, where the doctrine is laid down in emphatic language; we have the practice of the Court of Queen's Bench in England independently of any practice of our own court ... The general jurisdiction of the court, in a proper case, to change the venue from one county to any other, cannot be the subject of doubt. This power to transfer trial of criminal cases in furtherance of justice, exercised through writs of certiorari, has, according to the weight of authority, passed to the State Supreme Courts of the American Union. 1 In Cochecho R. Co. vs. Farrington, 26 N.H. 428, at page 436, it was held that the power to transfer the place of holding trials became thoroughly engrafted upon the common law, long before the independence of this country; and from that time forth, not only has the practice prevailed in the courts of England, but the power is now exercised by the Courts of very many if not all of our states, either by force of express statute or the adoption of the common law in the jurisprudence of the same. That such inherent powers are likewise possessed by the Philippine courts admits of no doubt, because they were organized on the American pattern with the enactment of the first judicial organic law, Act 136, on 11 June 1901, by the Philippine Commission, then composed by a majority of able American lawyers, fully familiar with the institutions and traditions of the common law. In Alzua and Arnalot vs. Johnson, 21 Phil. 300, 333, this Court stated: And it is safe to say that in every volume of the Philippine Reports, numbers of cases might be cited wherein recourse has been had to the rules, principles and doctrines of the common law in ascertaining the true meaning and scope of the legislation enacted in and for the Philippine Islands since they passed under American sovereignty. Among the earliest measures of the Philippine Commission, after the establishment of Civil Government under American sovereignty, was the enactment on June 11, 1901, of Act No. 136, "An Act providing for the organization of courts in the Philippine Islands." This Act in express terms abolished the then existing Audiencia or Supreme Court and Courts of First Instance, and substituted in their place the

courts provided therein. It sets out in general terms the jurisdiction, duties, privileges, and powers of the new courts and their judges. The majority of the members of the body which enacted it were able American lawyers. The spirit with which it is informed, and indeed its very language and terminology would be unintelligible without some knowledge of the judicial systems of England and the United States. Its manifest purpose and object was to replace the old judicial system, with its incidents and traditions drawn from Spanish sources, with a new system modeled in all its essential characteristics upon the judicial systems of the United States. It cannot be doubted, therefore, that any incident of the former system which conflicts with the essential principles and settled doctrines on which the new system rests, must be held to be abrogated by the law organizing the new system. While not expressly conferred by Act 136, We find it difficult to believe that the framers' intent was to deny, by silence, to the Philippine Courts, and particularly upon this Supreme Court, the inherent jurisdiction possessed by the English and American courts under their common law heritage to transfer the place of trial of cases in order to secure and promote the ends of justice, by providing fair and impartial inquiry and adjudication. Like the exemption of judges of courts of superior or general authority from liability in a civil action for acts done by them in the exercise of their judicial functions, upheld in the Alzua case as essentially inherent in the courts established by Act 136, even if not expressly provided for, the power to transfer the place of trials when so demanded by the interest of justice is equally essential and possesses no inferior rank. To it apply, mutatis mutandis, the words of this Court in the Alzua case just cited: The grounds of public policy and the reasoning upon which the doctrine is based are not less forceful and imperative in these Islands than in the countries from which the new judicial system was borrowed; and an examination of the reasons assigned ... leaves no room for doubt that a failure to recognize it as an incident to the new judicial system would materially impair its usefulness and tend very strongly to defeat the ends for which it was established. (21 Phil. 333334)

Not only has there been since then no proof of any specific pronouncement, by Constitution or Congress, against the exercise by our Courts of the power discussed heretofore: on the contrary, the law establishing the Circuit Criminal Courts, Republic Act No. 5179, in its Section 4, provides express legislative recognition of its existence: SEC. 4. The Circuit Criminal Courts may hold sessions anywhere within their respective districts: Provided, however, that cases shall be heard within the province where the crime subject of the offense was committed. And provided further, that when the interest of justice so demands, with prior approval of the Supreme Court, cases may be heard in a neighboring province within the district ... (Emphasis supplied) Since the requirements for proper jurisdiction have been satisfied by the filing of the criminal case in question with the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur, in which province the offenses charged were committed, according to the informations; since the holding of the trial in a particular place is more a matter of venue, rather than jurisdiction; since the interests of truth and justice can not be subserved by compelling the prosecution to proceed to trial in the respondent court in Ilocos Sur, because its witnesses, for just and weighty reasons, are unwilling to testify therein, and the respondent court, ignoring their safety, has abusively denied the motion to have the case transferred to another court, this Supreme Court, in the exercise of judicial power possessed by it under the Constitution and the statutes, should decree that the trial of cases 47-V and 48-V should be heard and decided by the Circuit Criminal Court of the Second Judicial District, either in San Fernando, La Union, or in Baguio City, at the earlier available date. This arrangement would have the advantage that the same trial judge could later be authorized to hear the defense witnesses in Vigan, if circumstances so demanded. Furthermore, the adjudication of the case by a judge other than respondent Gutierrez, if resulting in acquittal, would remove any doubt or suspicion that the same was in any way influenced by the trial Judge's being beholden to the Crisologo family. The solution thus adopted is in harmony with the ideals set by this Court in Manila Railroad Co. vs. Attorney General, 20 Phil. 523, where We said:

... The most perfect procedure that can be devised is that which gives opportunity for the most complete and perfect exercise of the powers of the court within the limitations set by natural justice. It is that one which, in other words, gives the most perfect opportunity for the powers of the court to transmute themselves into concrete acts of justice between the parties before it. The purpose of such a procedure is not to restrict the jurisdiction of the court over the subject matter but to give it effective facility in righteous action. It may be said in passing that the most salient objection which can be urged against procedure today is that it so restricts the exercise of the court's power by technicalities that part of its authority effective for justice between the parties is many times in inconsiderable portion of the whole. The purpose of procedure is not to thwart justice. Its proper aim is to facilitate the application of justice to the rival claims of contending parties. It was created not to hinder and delay but to facilitate and promote the administration of justice. It does not constitute the thing itself which courts are always striving to secure to litigants. It is designed as the means best adapted to obtain that thing. In other words, it is a means to an end. It is the means by which the powers of the court are made effective in just judgments. When it loses the character of the one and takes on that of the other the administration of justice becomes incomplete and unsatisfactory and lays itself open to grave criticism. (Manila Railroad Co. v. Attorney-General, 20 Phil. 523, 529 [1911]. Emphasis and paragraphing supplied.) In resume, this Court holds, and so rules: (1) That Republic Act No. 5179 creating the Circuit Criminal Courts did not, and does not, authorize the Secretary of Justice to transfer thereto specified and individual cases; (2) That this Supreme Court, in the exercise of the Judicial Power vested by the Constitution upon it and other statutory Courts, possesses inherent power and jurisdiction to decree that the trial and disposition of a case pending in a Court of First Instance be transferred to another Court of First Instance within the same district whenever the interest of justice and truth so demand, and there are serious and weighty reasons to believe that a trial by the court that

originally had jurisdiction over the case would not result in a fair and impartial trial and lead to a miscarriage of justice. (3) That in the present case there are sufficient and adequate reasons for the transfer of the hearing of Criminal Cases Nos. 47-V and 48-V of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur to the Circuit Criminal Court of the Second Judicial District, in the interest of truth and justice. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the writs of certiorari and mandamus prayed for are granted; the order of the respondent Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur, dated 20 July 1970, is sustained in so far as it holds that the Administrative Order No. 221 of the Department of Justice is not mandatory, but only directory; nevertheless, said order is declared in grave abuse of discretion and set aside in so far as it declines to transfer the trial of its cases Nos. 47-V and 48-V to another court within the district; and said respondent Court is accordingly directed and ordered to remand the two criminal cases aforesaid to the Circuit Criminal Court of the Second Judicial District for hearing of the evidence for the prosecution either in Baguio or San Fernando, La Union, at the earliest available date, and such other proceedings as the Circuit Criminal Court may determine in the interest of justice. The accused are required to file bail bonds to answer for their appearance at the trial and sentence by the Circuit Criminal Court for the Second Judicial District, in the same amount, and under the same terms and conditions as their present bail bonds, which will be replaced by those herein ordered, all within fifteen (15) days from finality of this decision. No special pronouncement as to costs. Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castro and Teehankee, JJ., concur. Concepcion, C.J., took no part. Villamor, J., reserves his vote. Dizon and Makasiar, JJ., are on leave.

Separate Opinions

FERNANDO, J., concurring: The learned and scholarly opinion of Justice J.B.L. Reyes renders crystal-clear why the decision reached by this Court should be what it is. It is a manifestation of the jurist's art at its most exemplary. It belies the belief not infrequently given utterance that hard cases make bad law. The problem before us is unique and unprecedented as far as our previous decisions go. It calls for a resolution farreaching in its consequences and far-flung in its implications. Fortunately for the administration of justice according to law, there is the recognition of power vested in this Court, in the past perhaps only imperfectly discerned but nonetheless in existence, to be utilized whenever there is need to do so. This is one such occasion. Even without resort then to precedents coming from jurisdictions after which our judicial system was patterned, the same result would have been reached. For only thus, to paraphrase Cardozo, would the flexibility and the creativeness of the judicial process assert themselves. The opinion of Justice J.B.L., Reyes therefore calls for assent, which I readily yield. Nor does it seem inappropriate if it be stressed that the conclusion reached by the Court is solidly buttressed not only in law as history but likewise in law as logic and as social control. Hence this brief concurring opinion, which likewise will afford me the opportunity to give expression to the view that the Constitution and the proceedings in the Constitutional Convention of 1934-1935 point unerringly to the conclusion that this Court as the sole body vested with judicial power by the fundamental law itself is not devoid of supervisory authority over inferior courts. Necessarily the prerogative to transfer the venue of criminal prosecutions whenever there is a persuasive showing that there would be a failure of justice is therein

included. On such an assumption, I do not feel called upon to inquire into any asserted authority, even if denominated administrative, of an alter ego of the Executive, the Secretary of Justice, over the lower courts. For my belief gets stronger with the years that it would be difficult to assert that such a competence, even as thus limited, is warranted under a Constitution based on the doctrine of separation of powers and necessarily committed to the principle of judicial independence. 1. We start with the grant by the Constitution of Judicial power to this Court and to such inferior courts as may be established by law. 1 Thus is conferred the authority to decide cases through the ascertainment of facts and the application of the law, involving many a time its interpretation. 2It connotes, in the language of the decision, "the imperative of securing a fair and impartial trial, or of preventing a miscarriage of justice. ...." 3Where, as this did develop in this case, there is more than a probability of an impasse with the witnesses for the prosecution displaying the utmost reluctance to testify if the trial would be held in Vigan, entailing the risk that there be, again in the language of the opinion, "a mockery of the judicial process." 4it would appear undeniable, and we have so held today, that this Court is not to be denied the necessary competence to set matters right. It is not to fold its hands as if in helpless submission to a binding decree of Providence but must meet the problem squarely, possessed of power adequate to cope with such an exigency. In the same way that the two other coordinate departments, the Executive and Congress, being constitutional organs, can rely on the fundamental law to justify the exercise of certain prerogatives, 5 so may this Court, the only constitutional court, exercise supervision over all other judicial agencies thereafter legislatively created, appropriately termed by the Constitution as inferior courts. There would be a void in the framework of government thus established if there is no official body of a higher rank that can take the necessary steps to avoid a frustration of the exercise of judicial power. It is my firm conviction that neither the Presidency nor Congress can rightfully be entrusted with such a task. If it were thus, then the doctrine of separation of powers becomes a myth. Such an approach necessarily and logically compel the conclusion that the so called administrative supervision exercised by the Secretary of

Justice is, to put it at its mildest, infected with the gravest doubts as to its constitutionality. There is no need to go that far to reach a decision in this case as is so aptly demonstrated in the opinion of the Court. What appears to me undisputed is that where the question partakes of a judicial character, only this Court can perform that function and trace its source to the Constitution itself. That is to free the Constitution from the reproach that a situation is left unprovided for. What is more, it assures the utmost respect for the principle that like the other two coordinate and co-equal branches, Court is likewise the recipient of power conferred by the Constitution itself. 6 2. So much for law from the standpoint of analytical jurisprudence of law as logic. If the matter be viewed from the approach found congenial by sociological jurists, law as one of the most effective forms of social control, the same conclusion appears to be inescapable. This is to examine legal institutions in terms of how they function. It certainly would be a blot on the administration of justice if by the reluctance of witnesses to testify, based on what they consider to be a feeling that cannot be stigmatized under the circumstances as having no basis in reason, no trial could be had of a criminal case. It is a matter of great public interest that crime should not go unpunished. Of course, it is equally important that the rights of whoever is accused are duly safeguarded. Where as in this case an impasse is likely to occur, in itself an alarming symptom of a breakdown in the orderly legal processes, the loss of public confidence in the rule of law itself is incalculable. That is an eventuality which at all pains must be avoided. The only question is how. If the legal doctrine and principles, which under the system of legal norms followed must be grounded in the Constitution itself do not recognize such a competence in this Court, then for some all may well be lost. It would be unthinkable, again given the assumption, not entirely without basis, that the two other branches of the government cannot escape political considerations, to assume that either Congress or the Executive can be trusted to take care of such a situation. Nor would it do to leave such matters in the hands of the lower courts, unless whatever is decided by them is subject to correction and review by

the only constitutional court, certainly vested with the needed supervisory authority. It would thus appear, if a breakdown in the legal system is to be averted, that the power of this Court is undeniable. There would seem to be no other way to avoid a serious disruption in the legal order. The above considerations necessarily lead me to yield a full concurrence with what has been so persuasively and ably put forth in the masterly opinion of Justice J.B.L. Reyes. December 5, 1970 BARREDO, J., concurring: The accuracy of the technical bases as well as the unerring logic of the resolution of the various facets of this case evidence in the main opinion written by our erudite colleague Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes could not but impel the unanimous assent given thereto by the members of this Court. Indeed, I could give the best evidence of my full concurrence therein by merely signing the same without this separate opinion. I feel, however, that the impact of this decision is of such transcendental importance to the administration of justice in this country, particularly now when some sectors of our people make no secret of lingering doubts as to the fairness and impartiality by judicial actuations and decisions, that my duty as a member of this highest tribunal of the land calls for more than just the giving of my vote in favor thereof. I consider it incumbent upon me, since none of my brethren seems to be minded to do it, to project more emphatically certain relevant matters, the significance of which should go hand in hand with the resolution of the case itself. I can neither control nor conceal the feeling of full satisfaction that overwhelms me now, because I consider this decision as probably the first one of national importance, in a long time, that will receive universal and unqualified approval throughout the length and breath of this Republic. I am sure it will yield for our constitutional government as a whole and for the judiciary in particular a rich harvest of regained trust and confidence in the administration of justice. This decision is a great leap forward. We are shaking away from a long standing jurisprudential rule; We are casting aside

technical procedural roadblocks; We are here and now proclaiming to all and sundry the plenitude, under the Constitution, of Our power and authority to "insure to (our people) and their posterity, the blessings of independence under a regime of justice" (Preamble of the Constitution) by holding that the "judicial power ... vested in ... (the) Supreme Court" necessarily carries with it the power to lay down procedures that will effectively and fully guarantee, as far as it is humanly possible to do so, that substantial justice shall not be defeated thru technicalities of procedure; and what is most important today, as I view it, is that this is one decision the essence of which spells simple justice that will be plainly understood by the common man. In the clearest terms, this Court holds in effect in this decision that inspite of the traditional rule that a person charged with an offense may not be tried in a province outside of the one ill which the alleged offense or any essential ingredient thereof has been committed, it is the duty of the corresponding trial court, with the approval of the Supreme Court, to see to it that when the demands of justice require it, the venue is moved to another province wherein the circumstantial environment will insure a full disclosure of all material facts essential in the pursuit of truth and justice. Surely, the common man would not understand why the Supreme Court in whom the totality of judicial power is vested by the Constitution would not have the authority and the right, nay the duty, to prevent a trial from being held in a place where it would be nothing more than a farce and an empty show, the final chapter of which may have already been prewritten, even independently of the honesty and integrity of the presiding judge, because of external factors and forces that impede the witnesses from making a free and fearless exposition of what they know. I am exceedingly happy that by this decision, the common man will understand that neither the Constitution nor this Court will ever be found wanting in what is needed top render justice in its truest sense. Now, for some views of my own on the specific legal issues raised by the parties in their pleadings. The problem revolves around the power of the Secretary of the Department of Justice vis-a-vis the operation of the Circuit Criminal Courts created by Republic Act 5179. The People contends that by Administrative Order 258 and 271, Series of 1968 and Administrative Order No. 226, Series of 1970, of the Secretary of Justice, issued pursuant allegedly to Republic Act 5179, (presumably Section 8 thereof) the transfer of the criminal cases

herein involved, Criminal Cases Nos. 47-V and 48-V of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Sur to the Circuit Criminal Court of the Second Judicial District is legally justifiable. On the other hand, the defense submits that under the uniformly announced doctrine of this Court regarding the jurisdictional nature of the venue of criminal cases and principally because to give effect to the administrative orders aforementioned would be impairing the independence of the judiciary, the accused in aforesaid cases must be tried in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, by the Court of First Instance in which, it is a fact, the case was filed on June 15, 1970, the very day Administrative Order No. 221 of the Secretary of Justice authorizing Judge Lino Anover of the Circuit Criminal Court to hold sessions in Vigan beginning July 1, 1970 was issued. It is my considered view that the less said about the intervention of the Department of Justice with the Circuit Criminal Courts by the issuance of Administrative Orders 258 and 274, Series of 1968 and worse Administrative Order No. 226, Series of 1970 the better, for I find absolutely no legal authority for the issuance of said Orders. The first two purportedly direct and instruct the judges of the various judicial districts of the Philippines as to how to apportion among themselves, together with the corresponding circuit criminal court judges, the cases falling within their concurrent jurisdiction. I feel very strongly that the distribution of the powers of government by the Constitution places, even in its broadest sense, everything that judges have to do that might in one way or another affect or be related to the ultimate disposition of the controversies and cases to be tried by them, including the distribution of the cases to be tried by them, entirely and exclusively with the judges themselves by common agreement among them, and so I hold that whatever be the import of Section 8 of Republic Act 5179 providing that "for administrative purposes, the Circuit Criminal Courts shall be under the supervision of the Department of Justice," the same cannot be considered as contemplating any intervention of the Secretary of Justice in the distribution of cases among judges. That the common impression and long standing practice on the matter are otherwise, cannot alter what, in my humble view, the Constitution ordains. I take it that under Republic Act 5179, Circuit Criminal Courts are nothing but additional branches of the regular Courts of First Instance

in their respective districts with the limited concurrent jurisdiction to take cognizance of, try and decide only those cases enumerated in Section 1 of the Act. This is readily implied from Section 3 of the Act which says: SEC. 3. The provisions of all laws and the Rules of Court relative to the judges of the Courts of First Instance and the trial, disposition and appeal of criminal cases therein shall be applicable to the circuit judge and the cases cognizable by them insofar as they are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act. It is also my conviction that when Congress enacted Republic Act 5179, it was conscious of the existing doctrinal rule laid down by this Court, in Cunanan 1 that in criminal cases, venue is equivalent to territorial jurisdiction and precisely because of this consciousness and the knowledge that the nature of the crimes placed within the jurisdiction of the Circuit Criminal Courts is such that their successful prosecution might be impaired or obstructed by the doctrinal rule aforementioned that in Section 4 of the Act, Congress expressly provided that as a rule, "cases shall be heard within the province where the crime subject of the offense (sic) was committed" but "when the interest of justice so demands, with the prior approval of the Supreme Court, cases may be heard in a neighboring province of the district." It is contended that these quoted provisions of Section 4 contemplate only those cases already in the Circuit Criminal Court. That may be so, but my view is that by the said provisions, Congress has precisely opened the door for the regular courts trying cases of the nature enumerated in the Act to shift those cases to the circuit criminal court in instances like the present wherein it appears quite evident that to maintain Vigan as the venue of the trials in question will defeat the ends of justice, for, after all, the circuit court is just another branch of the Court of First Instance, and once it is in the former court, then Section 4 may be easily applied. Moving of cases from one branch of a Court of First Instance to another branch thereof is neither new nor unusual when the judges concerned are agreed that such a step would best promote the interests of justice. In the light of this practice, commendable in its motivation, why cannot the transfer be made from the Court of First Instance to circuit criminal court? Indeed, this

should not be treated as merely a matter of discretion; judges should feel bound to act accordingly, as a matter of duty, hence a negative action in the appropriate cases is ground for certiorari or mandamus. In this connection, however, I must hasten to advert, that the interested parties should be duly heard on the matter and, in accordance with the spirit, if not the letter of the law, approval of the Supreme Court be secured. Apropos of all this discussion, I would like to make it clear that the rule invoked by the defense to the effect that venue in criminal cases is jurisdictional in character has no foundation in any act of the legislature. There can be no question that jurisdiction is conferred only by law and that it is only venue that may be fixed by the Rules of Court because jurisdiction is substantive and venue is merely procedural. The rule the defense invokes is found only in a decision of this Court rendered way back in 1913. In Cunanan, supra, this Court held: "The jurisdiction of the Courts of First Instance of the Philippine Islands, in criminal cases, is limited to certain well-defined territory. They cannot take jurisdiction of persons charged with an offense alleged to have been committed outside of that limited territory." As can be noted, no provision of law is cited in support of the ruling. The reason is simple. There is no such law. In other words, whatever force such invoked ruling may have is no more than that of a construction given by this Court. I dare say that when a previous construction by this Court runs counter to fundamental principles now separating the rule making power of the courts from the legislative faculty to define and apportion jurisdiction, it is best to lean in favor of recognizing the constitutional boundaries of our prerogatives when they are plain and the contrary cannot be implied. And since it was this Court that made the construction, there is nothing to stop Us from modifying the same, and inasmuch as Section 14, par. (a) of Rule 110 is purely a rule of venue, not legislated upon by Congress as a jurisdictional matter, Our power to change the same is unquestionable. I, therefore, reiterate my concurrence in the resolution of this point in the main opinion. Accordingly, I agree that the respondent judge gravely abused his discretion in not yielding to the suggested transfer of the cases in

question to the circuit criminal court. Court trials and proceedings mean nothing unless the pronouncement and decisions of the courts merit the faith and trust of the parties in particular and the people in general. To the common man specially, the imperatives of justice administered by our courts are: (1) judge who can be trusted and (2) procedures that insulate the proceedings from all factors that may taint the ultimate outcome of litigations with doubt and skepticism. To my mind, it is not enough that a judge trusts himself or can be trusted as capable of acting in good faith, it is equally important that no circumstance attendant to the proceedings should mar that quality of trustworthiness. It is thus clear that by Our decision in this case, We are not expressing any distrust as to the impartiality of respondent judge; it should be clearly understood, however, that it is possible for his decision to be unfair not because he has made it so, but because under the circumstances, the adulterated evidence before him leaves him no other alternative. May I say as I close that what is most striking in this decision is that it is a unanimous one, in spite of the fact that at first blush it appeared that there were formidable adverse precedents on our way. After long and careful deliberation and after viewing all its angles, factual and legal, when the time for voting came, there was no hesitation in the assent that all of us gave to the rationalizations and conclusions contained in the scholarly main opinion of Mr. Justice Reyes and the dispositive part of the decision, but by no means and in absolutely no degree did the public discussion generated by the peculiary circumstances and personages involved in this case ever influence any of Us, as such things, indeed, never will.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. L-35377-78 July 31, 1975 THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. CAMILO PILOTIN, VINCENT CRISOLOGO, ISIDRO PUGAL and ERNING ABANO, defendants-appellants. RESOLUTION

AQUINO, J.: Vincent Crisologo through counsel filed a verified motion praying for the transfer to the New Bilibid Prisons or, alternatively, to Camps Crame, Aguinaldo or Olivas, of the place of trial of Criminal Case No. 3949 of the municipal court of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, wherein he, as sole defendant, is charged with illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions. As justificatory ground, he alleged that his life would be in jeopardy if he were to be confined in the Vigan municipal jail during the trial because there are many political enemies of the Crisologo family in that vicinity; some of the adherents of the Crisologos had in fact been murdered in Ilocos Sur, and his father, Congressman Floro Crisologo, was shot to death while hearing mass at the Vigan cathedral. Bluntly, he affirmed that inside that jail he would be a sitting duck for a gunwielder or grenade-thrower who wants to assassinate him. He could even be lynched or shot to death on the specious pretext that he was trying to escape. Asked to comment on the motion, the Provincial Fiscal of Ilocos Sur signified his conformity to the transfer of the venue of the trial to the New Bilibid Prisons.

Section 5(4), Article X of the Constitution expressly empowers this Court to "order a change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice". Here, what is involved is not merely a miscarriage of justice but the personal safety of movant Crisologo, the accused. It would be absurd to compel him to undergo trial in a place where his life would be imperilled. Present hostile sentiment against the accused at the place of trial is a justification for transfer of venue (See State vs. Siers, 136 S. E. 503, 103, W. Va. 30; 22 C.J.S. 310).
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We find Crisologo's motion to be meritorious. The change of venue involves not merely the change of the place of hearing but also the transfer of the expediente of Criminal Case No. 3949 to another court. According to Crisologo's motion, the alleged evidence against him is in the custody of the authorities at Camp Crame, Quezon City. The transfer of Criminal Case No. 3949 to the City Court of Quezon City and the holding of the trial at Camp Crame appear to be the most convenient arrangement. WHEREFORE, the municipal court of Vigan is directed to transfer the record of Criminal Case No. 3949 to the City Court of Quezon City where it should be re-docketed and raffled to any Judge thereof. The case may be tried at Camp Crame. The usual precautions and security measures should be adopted in bringing defendant Crisologo to Camp Crame on the occasion of the hearing. SO ORDERED. Makalintal, C.J., Fernando, Barredo and Concepcion Jr., JJ., concur. Antonio, J, took no part.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R. No. L-41313 November 6, 1975 ALIPIO MONDIGUING and ANDRES DUNUAN, petitioners, vs. HON. FRANCISCO MEN ABAD, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Ifugao; PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES; MARIANO PACTIW, alias Bugbug; DULMOG ABLUYEN and ANGELINA ABLUYEN, respondents.. R E S O L U T I O N.

AQUINO, J.:
Alipio Mondiguing and Andres Dunuan are two of the ten defendants accused of double murder, frustrated murder and attempted murder in Criminal Case No. 140 of the Court of First Instance of Ifugao Province (People vs. George Bayucca et al.). That case was filed in connection with an ambuscade which was perpetuated on July 23, 1970 at Baag, Banaue, Ifugao. As a result of that incident, Governor Gualberto Lumauig of Ifugao was wounded and his executive assistant and his driver were killed. Up to this time the accused in that case have not been arraigned. . On September 4, 1975 Mondiguing and Dunuan filed in this Court a petition to transfer the venue of the case to Baguio City or Quezon City. They claimed that they could not expect a fair and impartial trial in Lagawe, Ifugao because Judge Francisco Men Abad of the Court of First Instance of that province is a protege' of Governor Lumauig and his brother, former Congressman Romulo Lumauig, and because their witnesses would be afraid to testify for fear of harassment and reprisals. The petitioners further claimed that, as may be inferred from previous incidents recounted in the petition, their lives and the lives of their witnesses and lawyers would be in grave danger in Ifugao because of the tensions and antagonisms spawned by the case and the political rivalry between the Lumauig and Mondiguing factions. (The accused, George Bayucca was killed on October 28,

1970 and Alipio Mondiguing resigned as mayor of Banaue and took refuge in Baguio City). . The Acting Solicitor General interposed no objection to the change of venue but he invited the Court's attention to the suggestion of Governor Lumauig that the case may be transferred to the proper court in Isabela in view of its proximity to Ifugao. . Respondent Judge Francisco Men Abad in his comment disputed the correctness or truth of the grounds relied upon for the change of venue and prayed that the petition be dismissed. He said that, if there would be bias on his part, he would be biased in favor of the People of the Philippines. He said that the crime charged was not "committed personally against" Governor Lumauig. That statement is not correct since the governor is one of the victims mentioned in the information. . Judge Abad revealed that petitioner Dunuan sent to the court a letter dated August 30, 1975 wherein he declined the services of Atty. Jose W. Diokno (who filed the instant petition for transfer of venue). In view of that disclosure, the petition herein should be regarded as having been filed only by Alipio Mondiguing. . The fact is that this Court in Paredes vs. Abad, L-36927-28, April 15, 1974, 56 SCRA 522, 534, disqualified Judge Abad from trying the electoral protests filed by Crescencio Paredes and Venancio Uyan against Gualberto Lumauig and John Langbayan. In that case it was alleged that Judge Abad was a political leader of Governor Lumauig and was recommended to his present position by the Lumauig brothers. . The issue is whether Mondiguing's plea for a change of venue is justified. A change of the place of trial in criminal cases should not be granted for whimsical or flimsy reasons. "The interests of the public require that, to secure the best results and effects in the punishment of crime, it is necessary to prosecute and punish the criminal in the very place, as near as may be, where he committed his crime" (Manila Railroad Co. vs. Attorney General, 20 Phil. 523, 562). . This Court is invested with the prerogative of ordering "a change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice" (Sec. 5[4],

Art. X of the Constitution). It "possesses inherent power and jurisdiction to decree that the trial and disposition of a case pending in a Court of First Instance be transferred to another Court of First Instance within the same district whenever the interest of justice and truth so demand, and there are serious and weighty reasons to believe that a trial by the court that originally had jurisdiction over the case would not result in a fair and impartial trial and lead to a miscarriage of justice" (People vs. Gutierrez, L-32282-83, November 26, 1970, 36 SCRA 172, 185). . A change of venue was ordered by this Court in a case where it was shown that the accused might be liquidated by his enemies in the place where the trial was originally scheduled to be held (People vs. Pilotin Vincent Crisologo, movant, L-3537778, July 31, 1975). After a careful consideration of the circumstances recited in Mondiguing's petition to support his request for a change of the place of trial, we have reached the conclusion that his petition is meritorious. . In the interest of a fair and impartial trial and to avoid a miscarriage of justice and considering that his life would be in danger if he were to be tried in Lagawe, Ifugao, he should be tried by the Circuit Criminal Court in the City of Baguio. . The other relief sought by Mondiguing, which is that he be transferred from the Philippine Constabulary headquarters at Lagawe, Ifugao to Camp Crame should be submitted for the consideration of the Circuit Criminal Court. . WHEREFORE, the petition of Alipio Mondiguing for the transfer of the venue of Criminal Case No. 140 of the Court of First Instance of Ifugao is granted. The said case should be transferred to the Circuit Criminal Court of the Second Judicial District so that it may be heard in Baguio City. . SO ORDERED. . Barredo (Actg. Chairman), Antonio, Concepcion, Jr. and Martin, JJ., concur.

Fernando J., is on leave.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-56158-64 March 17, 1981 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. MAYOR PABLO SOLA, SANGGUNIANG BAYAN MEMBER FRANCISCO (ECOT) GARCIA, RICARDO (CADOY) GARCIA, JOSE BETHOVEN (ATSONG) CABRAL, CAPTAIN FLORENDO BALISCAO, JOHN, PETER, OSCAR, OMAR, JACK, RICHARD, JAMES, DONALD, WILLIAM, ROBERT, HOMER, JESSIE, ANDY, PAUL, all surnamed DOES respondents.

FERNANDO, C.J.: The power of this Tribunal, constitutionally mandated, 1 to order a change of venue to avoid any miscarriage of justice as well as the procedure ordained in the implementation of the right to bail 2 are involved in this petition which, even if not so denominated, partakes of the nature of a certiorari. It must have been the zeal of private prosecutors Francisco Cruz and Renecio Espiritu, 3 no doubt under the conviction that there was no time to lose, that must have led them to devote less than that full measure of attention to certain fundamentals. They ignored the principle that the responsibility for the conduct of the prosecution is with the public officials concerned. Nonetheless, the importance of the questions raised, the need for a change of venue and the cancellation of the bail bonds, necessitated that further action be taken. Accordingly, in a resolution dated February 12, 1981, one day after the filing of the petition, the Court required the comment of the Solicitor General as well as of the private respondents, 4 the accused in six pending criminal cases before the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental. On March 4, 1981, the Comment was submitted by Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza. 5 It opened with this preliminary statement: "The present petition was filed by the private prosecutors in Criminal Cases Nos. 1700-1706, People v. Pablo Sola, et al., pending trial before the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental. Rightly, any

petition before this Honorable Court on behalf of the People of the Philippines can, under the law, be instituted only by the Solicitor General. The assertion of the petitioner private prosecutors that they are instituting the action 'subject to the control and supervision of the Fiscal' will not, therefore, improve their legal standing." 6 Nonetheless, it did not press the legal point but instead adopted "the two-pronged trusts of the petition: 1. the setting aside, by certiorari, of the order of the Municipal Court of Kabankalan, presided over by Judge Rafael Gasataya, granting bail to the accused in the criminal cases mentioned above, and 2. the petition for a change of venue or place of trial of the same criminal cases to avoid a miscarriage of justice. 7 The facts were therein narrated thus: "On September 15, 1980, acting on the evidence presented by the Philippine Constabulary commander at Hinigaran, Negros Occidental, the Court of First Instance of that province issued a search warrant for the search and seizure of tile deceased bodies of seven persons believed in the possession of the accused Pablo Sola in his hacienda at Sta. Isabel, Kabankalan, Negros Occidental. * * * On September 16, 1980 armed with the above warrant, elements of the of the 332nd PC/INP Company proceeded to the place of Sola. Diggings made in a canefield yielded two common graves containing the bodies of Fernando Fernandez, Mateo Olimpos, Alfredo Perez, Custodio Juanica, Arsolo Juanica, Rollie Callet and Bienvenido Emperado. On September 23 and October 1, 1980, the PC provincial commander of Negros Occidental filed seven (7) separate complaints for murder against the accused Pablo Sola, Francisco Garcia, Ricardo Garcia, Jose Bethoven Cabral, Florendo Baliscao and fourteen (14) other persons of unknown names. The cases were docketed as Criminal Cases No. 4129, 4130, 4131, 4137, 4138, 4139 and 4140 of the Municipal Court of Kabankalan. After due preliminary examination of the complainant's witnesses and his other evidence, the municipal court found probable cause against the accused. It thus issued an order for their a. rest. However, without giving the prosecution the opportunity to prove that the evidence of guilt of the accused is strong, the court granted them the right to post bail for their temporary release. The accused Pablo Sola, Francisco Garcia, and Jose Bethoven Cabral availed themselves of this right and have since been released from detention. In a parallel development. the witnesses in the murder cases informed the prosecution of their fears

that if the trial is held at the Court of First Instance branch in Himamaylan which is but 10 kilometers from Kabankalan, their safety could be jeopardized. At least two of the accused are officials with power and influence in Kabankalan and they have been released on bail. In addition, most of the accused remained at large. Indeed, there have been reports made to police authorities of threats made on the families of the witnesses." 8 The facts alleged argue strongly for the remedies sought, namely a change of venue and the cancellation of the bail bonds. On the very next day, March 15, 1981, this Court issued the following resolution: "The Court Resolved to: (a) [Note] the comment of the Solicitor General on the urgent petition for change of venue and cancellation of bail bonds, adopting the plea of the petition, namely, (1) the setting aside, by certiorari, of the order of the Municipal Court of Kabankalan, presided over by Judge Rafael Gasataya, granting bail to the accused in Criminal Cases Nos. 4129, 4130, 4131, 4137, 4138, 4139 and 4140, all entitled "People of the Philippines v. Mayor Pablo Sola. et al."; (2) the petition for a change of venue or place of trial of the same criminal cases to avoid a miscarriage of Justice; (b) [Transfer] the venue of the aforesaid criminal cases to Branch V of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental at Bacolod City, presided by Executive Judge Alfonso Baguio, considering that District Judge Ostervaldo Emilia of the Court of First Instance, Negros Occidental, Branch VI at Himamaylan has an approved leave of absence covering the period from January 12 to March 12, 1981 due to a mild attack of cerebral thrombosis and that the said Branch V is the nearest court station to Himamaylan: and (c) [Await] the comment of respondents on the petition to cancel bail, without prejudice to the public officials concerned taking the necessary measures to assure the safety of the witnesses of the prosecution." 9 Thus, the issue of a change of venue has become moot and academic. The comments respectively submitted by respondent Florendo Baliscao on March 5, 1981, respondent Francisco Garcia on March 11, 1981 and respondent Pablo Sola on March 16, 1981, dealt solely with the question of the cancellation of the bail bonds. Such comments were considered as answers, with the case thereafter deemed submitted for decision. The sole remaining issue of the cancellation of the bail bonds of

respondents, there being a failure to abide by the basic requirement that the prosecution be heard in a case where the accused is charged with a capital offense, prior to bail being granted, must be decided in favor of petitioner. The bail bonds must be cancelled and the case remanded to the sala of Executive Judge Alfonso Baguio for such hearing. So we rule. 1. It may not be amiss to say a few words on the question of transferring the place of trial, in this case, from Himamaylan to Bacolod City. The Constitution is quite explicit. The Supreme Court could order "a change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice." 10 The Constitutional Convention of 1971 wisely incorporated the ruling in the landmark decision of People v. Gutierrez, 11 where Justice J. B. L. Reyes as ponente vigorously and categorically affirmed: "In the particular case before Us, to compel the prosecution to proceed to trial in a locality where its witnesses will not be at liberty to reveal what they know is to make a mockery of the judicial process, and to betray the very purpose for which courts have been established." 12 Why a change of venue is imperative was made clear in the Comment of the Solicitor General. Thus: "The exercise by this Honorable Court of its above constitutional power in this case will be appropriate. The witnesses in the case are fearful for their lives. They are afraid they would be killed on their way to or from Himamaylan during any of the days of trial. Because of qqqts fear, they may either refuse to testify or testimony falsely to save their lives. 13 Respondent Florendo Baliscao was not averse to such transfer, but his preference is for a court anywhere in Metro Manila. 14 Respondent Francisco Garcia confined his comment to the question of the cancellation of the bail bonds. Respondent Pablo Sola made clear that he had "no objection to the transfer. 15 It may be added that there may be cases where the fear, objectively viewed, may, to some individuals, be less than terrifying, but the question must always be the effect it has on the witnesses who will testify. The primordial aim and intent of the Constitution must ever be kept in mind. In case of doubt, it should be resolved in favor of a change of venue. As a matter of fact, there need not be a petition of this character filed before this Court. Such a plea could have been done administratively. In this particular case, however, there is justification for the procedure followed in view of the fact that along with the change of venue, the cancellation of the bail bonds was also sought.

2. Equally so the cancellation of the bail bonds is more than justified. Bail was granted to the accused in the Order of the Municipal Court without hearing the prosecution That is to disregard the authoritative doctrine enunciated in People v. San Diego. 16 As pointed out by Justice Capistrano, speaking for the Court: "The question presented before us is, whether the prosecution was deprived of procedural due process. The answer is in the affirmative. We are of the considered opinion that whether the motion for bail of a defendant who is in custody for a capital offense be resolved in a summary proceeding or in the course of a regular trial, the prosecution must be given an opportunity to present, within a reasonable time, all the evidence that it may desire to introduce before the court should resolve the motion for bail. If, as in the criminal case involved in the instant special civil action, the prosecution should be denied such an opportunity, there would be a violation of procedural due process, and the order of the court granting bail should be considered void on that ground." 17 These words of Justice Cardozo come to mind: "The law, as we have seen, is sedulous in maintaining for a defendant charged with crime whatever forms of procedure are of the essence of an opportunity to defend. Privileges so fundamental as to be inherent in every concept of a fair trial that could be acceptable to the thought of reasonable men will be kept inviolate and inviolable, however crushing may be the pressure of incriminating proof. But justice, though due to the accused, is due to the accuser also. The concept of fairness must not be strained till it is narrowed to a filament. We are to keep the balance true." 18 This norm which is of the very essence of due process as the embodiment of justice requires that the prosecution be given the opportunity to prove that there is strong evidence of guilt. It does not suffice, as asserted herein, that the questions asked by the municipal judge before bail was granted could be characterized as searching. That fact did not cure an infirmity of a jurisdictional character. 19 WHEREFORE, the assailed order of Judge Rafael Gasataya granting bail to private respondents is nullified, set aside, and declared to be without force and effect. Executive Judge Alfonso Baguio of the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental, to whose sala the cases had been transferred by virtue of the resolution of this Court of March 5, 1981, is directed forthwith to hear the petitions for bail of private respondents, with the prosecution being duly heard on the question of

whether or not the evidence of guilt against the respondents is strong. This decision is immediately executory. No costs. Teehankee, Makasiar, Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Guerrero, De Castro and Melencio-Herrera JJ., concur. Barredo and Abad Santos, JJ., are on leave. Fernandez,

EN BANC [A.M. No. 10-1-06-RTC : January 12, 2010] RE: PETITION FOR CHANGE OF TRIAL VENUE OF CRIMINAL CASE NO. SA-198, PEOPLE V. DATA ANDAL AMPATUAN, SR., ET AL. FOR REBELLION FROM THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF COTABATO CITY TO THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF QUEZON CITY. Sirs/Mesdames: Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court En Banc dated January 12, 2010 "A.M. No. 10-1-06-RTC (Re: Petition for Change of Trial Venue of Criminal Case No. SA-198, People v. Data Andal Ampatuan, Sr., et al. for Rebellion from the Regional Trial Court of Cotabato City to the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.) For consideration of the Court are the following: 1. Letter dated December 23, 2009 of Acting Secretary Agnes VST Devanadera, Department of Justice, requesting for transfer of venue of Criminal Case No. SA-198, entitled "People of the Philippines v. Data Andal Ampatuan, Sr., et al.," for rebellion from the Regional Trial Court of Cotabato City to the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, citing the following as grounds therefor: a. The events occurring in the aftermath of the Maguindanao Massacre reinforce the notion that the Philippines is now the most dangerous place for journalists; b. This is considered by media organizations as a flagship case because of the interest it has generated in the local and international press due to the perceived clout of the suspects who belong to very influential and powerful political clans that virtually rule Maguindanao as its fiefdom; c. Although a panel of prosecutors composed of city, provincial and state prosecutors has been formed to prosecute this case, witnesses remain reluctant to fully disclose what they know if the case will be tried in the very heart of the accused's territory; and d. These factors do not instill confidence in the mind of potential witnesses, court personnel and complainants that their security will not be compromised if trial is held in Maguindanao. 2. Letter dated January 4, 2010 of Atty. Philip Sigfrid A. Fortun of Fortun Narvasa & Salazar Law Offices, counsel for the accused, opposing the request for change of venue arguing that it will be practical and protective of the accused's right to due process if venue be maintained in Mindanao for

accessibility to the courts and convenience to those charged. He thus requests that venue be maintained in Cotabato City or any other appropriate place in Mindanao, such as Davao City or General Santos City. Paragraph 4, Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution provides that the Court may order a change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice. The purpose of the provision is to ferret out the truth from the opposing claims of the parties in a controversy by means of a fair and impartial inquiry. Consequently, where there are serious and weighty reasons present that would prevent the court of original jurisdiction from conducting a fair and impartial trial, this Court has been mandated to order a change of venue so as to prevent a miscarriage of justice.[1] Among the reasons sufficient to justify a change of venue is the reluctance of witnesses to testify-out of fear for their personal security. Corrolarily, a hostile sentiment against the accused at the place of the trial, giving rise to the possibility that his life could be placed in clanger, is sufficient and justifiable cause to order a change of venue of the trial.[2] In view of the foregoing considerations and the proximity of Camp Crame to the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, the Court deems it best that the hearing of the case be lodged before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City provided that the proceedings be conducted in an appropriate place in Camp Crame, with adequate equipment and facilities sufficient to accommodate the court personnel, counsels of the parties and the parties and witnesses to ensure the safety and security of the Presiding judge, the court personnel and the parties and their counsels and witnesses. CONSIDERING THE FOREGOING, the Court RESOLVES to: 1. NOTE and GRANT the Letter dated December 23, 2009 of Acting Secretary Agnes VST Devanadera, Department of Justice; 2. NOTE the Letter dated January 4, 2010 of Atty. Philip Sigfrid A. Fortun of Fortun Narvasa & Salazar Law - Offices, counsel for the accused; 3. DIRECT the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Cotabato City to IMMEDIATELY FORWARD the records of the case to the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City; 4. DIRECT the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City to IMMEDIATELY RAFFLE the case to a branch thereat and COORDINATE with the authorities of Camp Crame for the proper conduct of trial in an appropriate place in Camp Crame sufficient to accommodate the court personnel, counsels of the parties, the parties and then-witnesses; and 5. DIRECT the judge to whom the case is raffled to try and hear Criminal Case No. SA-198 with dispatch; and

6. DIRECT the Office of the Court Administrator to ensure the proper implementation of this Resolution."

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-20687 April 30, 1966

MAXIMINO VALDEPEAS, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. Jose F. Aquirre for petitioner. Office of the Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz, Assistant Solicitor General A. A. Narra and Solicitor O. R. Ramirez for respondent. CONCEPCION, J.: Appeal by petitioner Maximino Valdepeas from a decision of the Court of Appeals, affirming that of the Court of First Instance of Cagayan, convicting him of the crime of abduction with consent, and sentencing him to an indeterminate penalty ranging from three (3) months and twenty-five (25) days of arresto mayor to one (1) year, eight (8) months and twenty-one (21) days of prision correccional, with the accessory penalties prescribed by law, to indemnify Ester Ulsano in the sum of P1,000, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs. The only question raised by petitioner is whether "the Court of Appeals erred in not reversing the decision of the trial court, dated June 30, 1960, for lack of jurisdiction over the person of the accused and the subject matter of the action for the offense of abduction with consent". The pertinent facts are: On January 25, 1956, Ester Ulsano, assisted by her mother, Consuelo Ulsano, filed with the Justice of the Peace Court of Piat, Cagayan, a criminal complaint,1 duly subscribed and sworn to by both, charging petitioner Maximino Valdepeas with forcible abduction with rape of Ester Ulsano. After due preliminary investigation, the second stage of which was waived by Valdepeas, the justice of the peace of Piat found that there was probable cause and forwarded the complaint to the court of first instance of Cagayan2 in which the corresponding information for forcible abduction with rape3 was filed.4 In due course, said court of first instance rendered

judgment5 finding petitioner guilty as charged and sentencing him accordingly.6 On appeal taken by petitioner, the Court of Appeals7 modified the decision of the court of first instance, convicted him of abduction with consent and meted out to him the penalty set forth in the opening paragraph of this decision.
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A motion for reconsideration and new trial having been filed by petitioner contesting the finding, made by the Court of Appeals, to the effect that complainant was below 18 years of age at the time of the occurrence, said Court 8 granted the motion, set aside its aforementioned decision and remanded the case to the court a quo for the reception of additional evidence on said issue. After a retrial, the court of first instance rendered another decision,9 reiterating said finding of the Court of Appeals, as well as its judgment 10 of conviction for abduction with consent and the penalty imposed therein. Petitioner appealed again to the Court of Appeals 11 which 12 affirmed that of the court of first instance 13 with costs against the petitioner. Again petitioner filed 14 a motion for reconsideration based, for the first time, upon the ground that "the lower court had no jurisdiction over the person of appellant and over the subject matter of the action, with respect to the offense of abduction with consent." Upon denial of the motion, 15 petitioner interposed the present appeal by certiorari. Petitioner's theory is that no complaint for abduction with consent has been filed by either Ester Ulsano or her mother, Consuelo Ulsano, and that, accordingly, the lower court acquired no jurisdiction over his person or over the crime of abduction with consent and had, therefore, no authority to convict him of said crime. We find no merit in this pretense. Jurisdiction over the person of an accused is acquired upon either his apprehension, with or without warrant, or his submission to the jurisdiction of the court. 16 In the case at bar, it is not claimed that petitioner had not been apprehended or had not submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court. Indeed, although brought before the bar of justice as early as January 25, 1956, first, before the then justice of the peace court of Piat, then before the court of first instance of Cagayan, later before the Court of Appeals, thereafter back before

said court of first instance, and then, again, before the Court of Appeals, never, within the period of six (6) years that had transpired until the Court of Appeals, rendered its last decision, 17 had he questioned the judicial authority of any of these three (3) courts over his person. He is deemed, therefore, to have waived whatever objection he might have had to the jurisdiction over his person, and, hence, to have submitted himself to the Court's jurisdiction. What is more, his behaviour and every single one of the steps taken by him before said courts particularly the motions therein filed by him implied, not merely a submission to the jurisdiction thereof, but, also, that he urged the courts to exercise the authority thereof over his person. Upon the other hand, it is well settled that jurisdiction over the subject matter of an action in this lease the crime of abduction with consent is and may be conferred only by law; 18 that jurisdiction over a given crime, not vested by law upon a particular court, may not be conferred thereto by the parties involve in the offense; and that, under an information for forcible abduction, the accused may be convicted of abduction with consent. 19 It is true that, pursuant to the third paragraph of Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code, . . . the offenses of seduction, abduction, rape or acts of lasciviousness, shall not be prosecuted except upon a complaint filed by the offended party or her parents, grandparents, or guardian, nor, in any case, if the offender has been expressly pardoned by the above-named persons, as the case may be. The provision does not determine, however, the jurisdiction of our courts over the offenses therein enumerated. It could not affect said jurisdiction, because the same is governed by the Judiciary Act of 1948, not by the Revised Penal Code, which deals primarily with the definition of crimes and the factors pertinent to the punishment of the culprits. The complaint required in said Article 344 is merely a condition precedent to the exercise by the proper authorities of the power to prosecute the guilty parties. And such condition has been imposed "out of consideration for the offended woman and her family who might prefer to suffer the outrage in silence rather than go through with the scandal of a public trial." 20

In the case at bar, the offended woman and her mother have negated such preference by filing the complaint adverted to above and going through the trials and tribulations concomitant with the proceedings in this case, before several courts, for the last ten (10) years. Petitioner says that the complaint was for forcible abduction, not abduction with consent; but, as already adverted to, the latter is included in the former. Referring particularly to the spirit of said provision of Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code, we believe that the assent of Ester Ulsano and her mother to undergo the scandal of a public trial for forcible abduction necessarily connotes, also, their willingness to face the scandal attendant to a public trial for abduction with consent. The gist of petitioner's pretense is that there are some elements of the latter which are not included in the former, and, not alleged, according to him, in the complaint filed herein, 21 namely: 1) that the offended party is a virgin; and 2) that she is over 12 and under 18 years of age. The second element is clearly set forth in said complaint, which states that Ester Ulsano is "a minor ... 17 years of age ...", and, hence, over 12 and below 18 years of age. As regards the first element, it is settled that the virginity mentioned in Article 343 of the Revised Penal Code, 22 as an essential ingredient of the crime of abduction with consent, should not be understood in its material sense and does not exclude the idea of abduction of a virtuous woman of good reputation, 23 because the essence of the offense "is not the wrong done to the woman, but the outrage to the family and the alarm produced in it by the disappearance of one of its members." 24 The complaint in the case at bar 25 alleges, not only that Ester Ulsano is a minor 17 years of age, but also that petitioner "willfully, unlawfully and feloniously" took her "by force and violence ... against her will and taking advantage of the absence of her mother" from their dwelling and carried "her to a secluded spot to gain carnal intercourse with the offended party against her will, using force, intimidation and violence, with lewd designs." This allegation implies that Ester is a minor living under patria protestas, and, hence, single, thus leading to the presumption that she is a virgin, 26 apart from being virtuous and having a good reputation, 27 for, as Chief Justice Moran has aptly put it, the presumption of innocence includes, also,

that of morality and decency, and, as a consequence, of chastity. 28 Wherefore, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs against the petitioner Maximino Valdepeas. It is so ordered. Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Regala, Makalintal and Bengzon, J.P., JJ., concur. Barrera, Zaldivar and Sanchez, JJ., took no part.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 158763 March 31, 2006

JOSE C. MIRANDA, ALBERTO P. DALMACIO, and ROMEO B. OCON, Petitioners, vs. VIRGILIO M. TULIAO, Respondent. DECISION CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the 18 December 2002 Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 67770 and its 12 June 2003 Resolution denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration. The dispositive portion of the assailed decision reads as follows: WHEREFORE, finding public respondent Judge Anastacio D. Anghad to have acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the assailed Orders, the instant petition for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition is hereby GRANTED and GIVEN DUE COURSE, and it is hereby ordered: 1. The assailed Joint Order dated August 17, 2001, Order dated September 21, 2001, Joint Order dated October 16, 2001 and Joint Order dated November 14, 2001 dismissing the two (2) Informations for Murder, all issued by public respondent Judge Anastacio D. Anghad in Criminal Cases Nos. 36-3523 and 36-3524 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and another entered UPHOLDING, AFFIRMING[,] and REINSTATING the Order dated June 25, 2001 and Joint Order dated July 6, 2001 issued by the then acting Presiding Judge Wilfredo Tumaliuan; 2. Criminal Cases Nos. 36-3523 and 36-3524 are hereby ordered REINSTATED in the docket of active criminal cases of Branch 36 of the Regional Trial Court of Santiago City, Isabela; and 3. Public respondent Judge Anastacio D. Anghad is DIRECTED to

ISSUE forthwith Warrants of Arrest for the apprehension of private respondents Jose "Pempe" Miranda, SPO3 Alberto P. Dalmacio, PO3 Romeo B. Ocon and accused Rodel T. Maderal in said Criminal Cases Nos. 36-3523 and 36-3524. 2 The factual and procedural antecedents of the case are as follows: On 8 March 1996, two burnt cadavers were discovered in Purok Nibulan, Ramon, Isabela, which were later identified as the dead bodies of Vicente Bauzon and Elizer Tuliao, son of private respondent Virgilio Tuliao who is now under the witness protection program. Two informations for murder were filed against SPO1 Wilfredo Leao, SPO1 Ferdinand Marzan, SPO1 Ruben B. Agustin, SPO2 Alexander Micu, SPO2 Rodel Maderal, and SPO4 Emilio Ramirez in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Santiago City. The venue was later transferred to Manila. On 22 April 1999, the RTC of Manila convicted all of the accused and sentenced them to two counts of reclusion perpetua except SPO2 Maderal who was yet to be arraigned at that time, being at large. The case was appealed to this Court on automatic review where we, on 9 October 2001, acquitted the accused therein on the ground of reasonable doubt. Sometime in September 1999, SPO2 Maderal was arrested. On 27 April 2001, he executed a sworn confession and identified petitioners Jose C. Miranda, PO3 Romeo B. Ocon, and SPO3 Alberto P. Dalmacio, a certain Boyet dela Cruz and Amado Doe, as the persons responsible for the deaths of Vicente Bauzon and Elizer Tuliao. Respondent Tuliao filed a criminal complaint for murder against petitioners, Boyet dela Cruz, and Amado Doe, and submitted the sworn confession of SPO2 Maderal. On 25 June 2001, Acting Presiding Judge Wilfredo Tumaliuan issued warrants of arrest against petitioners and SPO2 Maderal. On 29 June 2001, petitioners filed an urgent motion to complete preliminary investigation, to reinvestigate, and to recall and/or quash the warrants of arrest.

In the hearing of the urgent motion on 6 July 2001, Judge Tumaliuan noted the absence of petitioners and issued a Joint Order denying said urgent motion on the ground that, since the court did not acquire jurisdiction over their persons, the motion cannot be properly heard by the court. In the meantime, petitioners appealed the resolution of State Prosecutor Leo T. Reyes to the Department of Justice. On 17 August 2001, the new Presiding Judge Anastacio D. Anghad took over the case and issued a Joint Order reversing the Joint Order of Judge Tumaliuan. Consequently, he ordered the cancellation of the warrant of arrest issued against petitioner Miranda. He likewise applied this Order to petitioners Ocon and Dalmacio in an Order dated 21 September 2001. State Prosecutor Leo S. Reyes and respondent Tuliao moved for the reconsideration of the said Joint Order and prayed for the inhibition of Judge Anghad, but the motion for reconsideration was denied in a Joint Order dated 16 October 2001 and the prayer for inhibition was denied in a Joint Order dated 22 October 2001. On 25 October 2001, respondent Tuliao filed a petition for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition with this Court, with prayer for a Temporary Restraining Order, seeking to enjoin Judge Anghad from further proceeding with the case, and seeking to nullify the Orders and Joint Orders of Judge Anghad dated 17 August 2001, 21 September 2001, 16 October 2001, and 22 October 2001. On 12 November 2001, this Court issued a Resolution resolving to grant the prayer for a temporary restraining order against Judge Anghad from further proceeding with the criminal cases. Shortly after the aforesaid resolution, Judge Anghad issued a Joint Order dated 14 November 2001 dismissing the two Informations for murder against petitioners. On 19 November 2001, this Court took note of respondents cash bond evidenced by O.R. No. 15924532 dated 15 November 2001, and issued the temporary restraining order while referring the petition to the Court of Appeals for adjudication on the merits. Respondent Tuliao filed with this Court a Motion to Cite Public Respondent in Contempt, alleging that Judge Anghad "deliberately and willfully committed contempt of court when he issued on 15

November 2001 the Order dated 14 November 2001 dismissing the informations for murder." On 21 November 2001, we referred said motion to the Court of Appeals in view of the previous referral to it of respondents petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus. On 18 December 2002, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed decision granting the petition and ordering the reinstatement of the criminal cases in the RTC of Santiago City, as well as the issuance of warrants of arrest against petitioners and SPO2 Maderal. Petitioners moved for a reconsideration of this Decision, but the same was denied in a Resolution dated 12 June 2003. Hence, this petition. The facts of the case being undisputed, petitioners bring forth to this Court the following assignments of error: FIRST ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR With all due respect, the Honorable Court of Appeals gravely erred in reversing and setting aside the Joint Order of Judge Anastacio D. Anghad dated August 17, 2001, September 21, 2001, October 16, 2001 and November 14, 2001 issued in criminal cases numbered 363523 and 36-3524; and, erred in upholding, affirming and reinstating the Order dated July 6, 2001 issued by then Acting Presiding Judge Wilfredo Tumaliuan, on the alleged rule that an accused cannot seek any judicial relief if he does not submit his person to the jurisdiction of the court. SECOND ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR With all due respect, the Honorable Court of Appeals gravely erred in directing the reinstatement of Criminal Cases No. 36-3523 and 363524 in the docket of Active Criminal Cases of Branch 36 of the Regional Trial Court of Santiago City, Philippines, and in ordering the public respondent to re-issue the warrants of arrest against herein petitioners. THIRD ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR Wit all due respect, the Honorable Court of Appeals committed a

reversible error in ordering the reinstatement of Criminal Cases No. 36-3523 and No. 36-3524 in the docket of active criminal cases of Branch 36 of the regional trial court of Santiago City, Philippines, and in ordering the public respondent to issue warrants of arrest against herein petitioners, the order of dismissal issued therein having become final and executory. Adjudication of a motion to quash a warrant of arrest requires neither jurisdiction over the person of the accused, nor custody of law over the body of the accused. The first assignment of error brought forth by the petitioner deals with the Court of Appeals ruling that: [A]n accused cannot seek any judicial relief if he does not submit his person to the jurisdiction of the court. Jurisdiction over the person of the accused may be acquired either through compulsory process, such as warrant of arrest, or through his voluntary appearance, such as when he surrenders to the police or to the court. It is only when the court has already acquired jurisdiction over his person that an accused may invoke the processes of the court (Pete M. Pico vs. Alfonso V. Combing, Jr., A.M. No. RTJ-91-764, November 6, 1992). Thus, an accused must first be placed in the custody of the law before the court may validly act on his petition for judicial reliefs.3 Proceeding from this premise, the Court of Appeals ruled that petitioners Miranda, Ocon and Dalmacio cannot seek any judicial relief since they were not yet arrested or otherwise deprived of their liberty at the time they filed their "Urgent Motion to complete preliminary investigation; to reinvestigate; to recall and/or quash warrants of arrest."4 Petitioners counter the finding of the Court of Appeals by arguing that jurisdiction over the person of the accused is required only in applications for bail. Furthermore, petitioners argue, assuming that such jurisdiction over their person is required before the court can act on their motion to quash the warrant for their arrest, such jurisdiction over their person was already acquired by the court by their filing of the above Urgent Motion. In arguing that jurisdiction over the person is required only in the

adjudication of applications for bail, petitioners quote Retired Court of Appeals Justice Oscar Herrera: Except in applications for bail, it is not necessary for the court to first acquire jurisdiction over the person of the accused to dismiss the case or grant other relief. The outright dismissal of the case even before the court acquires jurisdiction over the person of the accused is authorized under Section 6(a), Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Revised Rules on Summary Procedure (Sec. 12a). In Allado vs. Diokno (232 SCRA 192), the case was dismissed on motion of the accused for lack of probable cause without the accused having been arrested. In Paul Roberts vs. Court of Appeals (254 SCRA 307), the Court was ordered to hold the issuance of a warrant of arrest in abeyance pending review by the Secretary of Justice. And in Lacson vs. Executive Secretary (301 SCRA 1025), the Court ordered the case transferred from the Sandiganbayan to the RTC which eventually ordered the dismissal of the case for lack of probable cause.6 In arguing, on the other hand, that jurisdiction over their person was already acquired by their filing of the above Urgent Motion, petitioners invoke our pronouncement, through Justice Florenz D. Regalado, in Santiago v. Vasquez7: The voluntary appearance of the accused, whereby the court acquires jurisdiction over his person, is accomplished either by his pleading to the merits (such as by filing a motion to quash or other pleadings requiring the exercise of the courts jurisdiction thereover, appearing for arraignment, entering trial) or by filing bail. On the matter of bail, since the same is intended to obtain the provisional liberty of the accused, as a rule the same cannot be posted before custody of the accused has been acquired by the judicial authorities either by his arrest or voluntary surrender. Our pronouncement in Santiago shows a distinction between custody of the law and jurisdiction over the person. Custody of the law is required before the court can act upon the application for bail, but is not required for the adjudication of other reliefs sought by the defendant where the mere application therefor constitutes a waiver of the defense of lack of jurisdiction over the person of the accused.8

Custody of the law is accomplished either by arrest or voluntary surrender,9 while jurisdiction over the person of the accused is acquired upon his arrest or voluntary appearance. 10 One can be under the custody of the law but not yet subject to the jurisdiction of the court over his person, such as when a person arrested by virtue of a warrant files a motion before arraignment to quash the warrant. On the other hand, one can be subject to the jurisdiction of the court over his person, and yet not be in the custody of the law, such as when an accused escapes custody after his trial has commenced. 11 Being in the custody of the law signifies restraint on the person, who is thereby deprived of his own will and liberty, binding him to become obedient to the will of the law. 12 Custody of the law is literally custody over the body of the accused. It includes, but is not limited to, detention. The statement in Pico v. Judge Combong, Jr., 13 cited by the Court of Appeals should not have been separated from the issue in that case, which is the application for admission to bail of someone not yet in the custody of the law. The entire paragraph of our pronouncement in Pico reads: A person applying for admission to bail must be in the custody of the law or otherwise deprived of his liberty. A person who has not submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court has no right to invoke the processes of that court. Respondent Judge should have diligently ascertained the whereabouts of the applicant and that he indeed had jurisdiction over the body of the accused before considering the application for bail. 13 While we stand by our above pronouncement in Pico insofar as it concerns bail, we clarify that, as a general rule, one who seeks an affirmative relief is deemed to have submitted to the jurisdiction of the court. 15 As we held in the aforecited case of Santiago, seeking an affirmative relief in court, whether in civil or criminal proceedings, constitutes voluntary appearance. Pico deals with an application for bail, where there is the special requirement of the applicant being in the custody of the law. In Feliciano v. Pasicolan, 16 we held that "[t]he purpose of bail is to secure ones release and it would be incongruous to grant bail to one

who is free. Thus, bail is the security required and given for the release of a person who is in the custody of law." The rationale behind this special rule on bail is that it discourages and prevents resort to the former pernicious practice wherein the accused could just send another in his stead to post his bail, without recognizing the jurisdiction of the court by his personal appearance therein and compliance with the requirements therefor. 17 There is, however, an exception to the rule that filing pleadings seeking affirmative relief constitutes voluntary appearance, and the consequent submission of ones person to the jurisdiction of the court. This is in the case of pleadings whose prayer is precisely for the avoidance of the jurisdiction of the court, which only leads to a special appearance. These pleadings are: (1) in civil cases, motions to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant, whether or not other grounds for dismissal are included; 18 (2) in criminal cases, motions to quash a complaint on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the person of the accused; and (3) motions to quash a warrant of arrest. The first two are consequences of the fact that failure to file them would constitute a waiver of the defense of lack of jurisdiction over the person. The third is a consequence of the fact that it is the very legality of the court process forcing the submission of the person of the accused that is the very issue in a motion to quash a warrant of arrest. To recapitulate what we have discussed so far, in criminal cases, jurisdiction over the person of the accused is deemed waived by the accused when he files any pleading seeking an affirmative relief, except in cases when he invokes the special jurisdiction of the court by impugning such jurisdiction over his person. Therefore, in narrow cases involving special appearances, an accused can invoke the processes of the court even though there is neither jurisdiction over the person nor custody of the law. However, if a person invoking the special jurisdiction of the court applies for bail, he must first submit himself to the custody of the law. In cases not involving the so-called special appearance, the general rule applies, i.e., the accused is deemed to have submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court upon seeking affirmative relief. Notwithstanding this, there is no requirement for him to be in the

custody of the law. The following cases best illustrate this point, where we granted various reliefs to accused who were not in the custody of the law, but were deemed to have placed their persons under the jurisdiction of the court. Note that none of these cases involve the application for bail, nor a motion to quash an information due to lack of jurisdiction over the person, nor a motion to quash a warrant of arrest: 1. In Allado v. Diokno, 19 on the prayer of the accused in a petition for certiorari on the ground of lack of probable cause, we issued a temporary restraining order enjoining PACC from enforcing the warrant of arrest and the respondent judge therein from further proceeding with the case and, instead, to elevate the records to us. 2. In Roberts, Jr. v. Court of Appeals,20 upon the accuseds Motion to Suspend Proceedings and to Hold in Abeyance Issuance of Warrants of Arrest on the ground that they filed a Petition for Review with the Department of Justice, we directed respondent judge therein to cease and desist from further proceeding with the criminal case and to defer the issuance of warrants of arrests against the accused. 3. In Lacson v. Executive Secretary,21 on the prayer of the accused in a petition for certiorari on the ground of lack of jurisdiction on the part of the Sandiganbayan, we directed the Sandiganbayan to transfer the criminal cases to the Regional Trial Court even before the issuance of the warrants of arrest. We hold that the circumstances forcing us to require custody of the law in applications for bail are not present in motions to quash the warrant of arrest. If we allow the granting of bail to persons not in the custody of the law, it is foreseeable that many persons who can afford the bail will remain at large, and could elude being held to answer for the commission of the offense if ever he is proven guilty. On the other hand, if we allow the quashal of warrants of arrest to persons not in the custody of the law, it would be very rare that a person not genuinely entitled to liberty would remain scot-free. This is because it is the same judge who issued the warrant of arrest who will decide whether or not he followed the Constitution in his determination of probable cause, and he can easily deny the motion to quash if he really did find probable cause after personally

examining the records of the case. Moreover, pursuant to the presumption of regularity of official functions, the warrant continues in force and effect until it is quashed and therefore can still be enforced on any day and at any time of the day and night.22 Furthermore, the continued absence of the accused can be taken against him in the determination of probable cause, since flight is indicative of guilt. In fine, as much as it is incongruous to grant bail to one who is free, it is likewise incongruous to require one to surrender his freedom before asserting it. Human rights enjoy a higher preference in the hierarchy of rights than property rights,23 demanding that due process in the deprivation of liberty must come before its taking and not after. Quashing a warrant of arrest based on a subsequently filed petition for review with the Secretary of Justice and based on doubts engendered by the political climate constitutes grave abuse of discretion. We nevertheless find grave abuse of discretion in the assailed actions of Judge Anghad. Judge Anghad seemed a little too eager of dismissing the criminal cases against the petitioners. First, he quashed the standing warrant of arrest issued by his predecessor because of a subsequently filed appeal to the Secretary of Justice, and because of his doubts on the existence of probable cause due to the political climate in the city. Second, after the Secretary of Justice affirmed the prosecutors resolution, he dismissed the criminal cases on the basis of a decision of this Court in another case with different accused, doing so two days after this Court resolved to issue a temporary restraining order against further proceeding with the case. After Judge Tumaliuan issued warrants for the arrest of petitioners, petitioner Miranda appealed the assistant prosecutors resolution before the Secretary of Justice. Judge Anghad, shortly after assuming office, quashed the warrant of arrest on the basis of said appeal. According to Judge Anghad, "x x x prudence dictates (that) and because of comity, a deferment of the proceedings is but proper."24 Quashal on this basis is grave abuse of discretion. It is inconceivable

to charge Judge Tumaliuan as lacking in prudence and oblivious to comity when he issued the warrants of arrest against petitioners just because the petitioners might, in the future, appeal the assistant prosecutors resolution to the Secretary of Justice. But even if the petition for review was filed before the issuance of the warrants of arrest, the fact remains that the pendency of a petition for the review of the prosecutors resolution is not a ground to quash the warrants of arrest. In Webb v. de Leon,25 we held that the petitioners therein cannot assail as premature the filing of the information in court against them on the ground that they still have the right to appeal the adverse resolution of the DOJ Panel to the Secretary of Justice. Similarly, the issuance of warrants of arrest against petitioners herein should not have been quashed as premature on the same ground. The other ground invoked by Judge Anghad for the quashal of the warrant of arrest is in order if true: violation of the Constitution. Hence, Judge Anghad asked and resolved the question: In these double murder cases, did this Court comply or adhere to the above-quoted constitutional proscription, which is Sec. 2, Article III Bill of Rights; to Sec. 6(a), Rule 112, Rules of Criminal Procedure and to the above-cited decisional cases? To this query or issue, after a deep perusal of the arguments raised, this Court, through [its] regular Presiding Judge, finds merit in the contention of herein accusedmovant, Jose "Pempe" Miranda.26 Judge Anghad is referring to the following provision of the Constitution as having been violated by Judge Tumaliuan: Sec. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.27 However, after a careful scrutiny of the records of the case, including

the supporting evidence to the resolution of the prosecutor in his determination of probable cause, we find that Judge Anghad gravely abused his discretion. According to petitioners: In this case, the nullity of the order of Judge Tumaliuan, for the arrest of the petitioners is apparent from the face of the order itself, which clearly stated that the determination of probable cause was based on the certification, under oath, of the fiscal and not on a separate determination personally made by the Judge. No presumption of regularity could be drawn from the order since it expressly and clearly showed that it was based only on the fiscals certification.28 Petitioners claim is untrue. Judge Tumaliuans Joint Order contains no such indication that he relied solely on the prosecutors certification. The Joint Order even indicated the contrary: Upon receipt of the information and resolution of the prosecutor, the Court proceeded to determine the existence of a probable cause by personally evaluating the records x x x.[29] The records of the case show that the prosecutors certification was accompanied by supporting documents, following the requirement under Lim, Sr. v. Felix30 and People v. Inting.31 The supporting documents are the following: 1. Resolution dated 21 June 2001 of State Prosecutor Leo S. Reyes; 2. Affidavit dated 22 May 2001 of Modesto Gutierrez; 3. Affidavit dated 19 May 2001 of Romeo B. Ocon; 4. Joint Counter Affidavit dated 23 May 2001 of Mayor Jose C. Miranda and Reynaldo de la Cruz; 5. Affidavit dated 19 May 2001 of Alberto Dalmacio; 6. Decision dated 22 April 1999 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 41 in Criminal Case No. 97-160355;

7. Sworn statement dated 27 April 2001 of Rodel Maderal; 8. Information dated 22 June 2001; 9. Affidavit-complaint of Virgilio Tuliao; and 10. Medico-legal Reports of the cadavers of Elezer Tuliao and Vicente Buazon. Hence, procedurally, we can conclude that there was no violation on the part of Judge Tumaliuan of Article III, Section 2, of the Constitution. Judge Anghad, however, focused on the substantive part of said section, i.e., the existence of probable cause. In failing to find probable cause, Judge Anghad ruled that the confession of SPO2 Maderal is incredible for the following reasons: (1) it was given after almost two years in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation; (2) it was given by someone who rendered himself untrustworthy for being a fugitive for five years; (3) it was given in exchange for an obvious reward of discharge from the information; and (4) it was given during the election period amidst a "politically charged scenario where "Santiago City voters were pitted against each other along the lines of the Miranda camp on one side and former City Mayor Amelita S. Navarro, and allegedly that of DENR Secretary Heherson Alvarez on the other."32 We painstakingly went through the records of the case and found no reason to disturb the findings of probable cause of Judge Tumaliuan. It is important to note that an exhaustive debate on the credibility of a witness is not within the province of the determination of probable cause. As we held in Webb33: A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that more likely than not a crime has been committed and was committed by the suspects. Probable cause need not be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt, neither on evidence establishing guilt beyond reasonable doubt and definitely, not on evidence establishing absolute certainty of guilt. As well put in Brinegar v. United States, while probable cause demands more than "bare suspicion," it requires "less than evidence which would justify x x x conviction." A finding of probable cause merely binds over the

suspect to stand trial. It is not a pronouncement of guilt. x x x Probable cause merely implies probability of guilt and should be determined in a summary manner. Preliminary investigation is not a part of trial x x x. Dismissing a criminal case on the basis of a decision of this Court in another case with different accused constitutes grave abuse of discretion. Judge Anghad had quashed the warrant of arrest on the ground, among other things, that there was a petition for review of the assistant prosecutors resolution before the Secretary of Justice. However, after the Secretary of Justice affirmed the prosecutors resolution, Judge Anghad summarily dismissed the two criminal cases against the petitioners on the basis of the following explanation: Rodel Maderal was one of the accused in People vs. Wilfredo Leano, et al., RTC, Branch 41, Manila, and based from his sworn statements, he pinpointed to Mr. Miranda the mastermind and with him and the other police officers as the direct perpetrators, the October 9, 2001 Decision of the Supreme Court absolving the five cops of murder, certainly makes his sworn Statements a "narration of falsehood and lies" and that because of the decision acquitting said officers "who were likewise falsely linked by said Rodel Maderal in his April 27, 2001 statements, it is now beyond doubt that Rodel Maderal made untruthful, fabricated and perjured statements and therefore the same is without probable value." This Court agrees with the defenses views. Indeed, of what use is Maderals statements when the Supreme Court rejected the prosecutions evidence presented and adduced in Criminal Case No. 97-160355. Rodel Maderal is supposed to turn state witness in these two (2) cases but with the Supreme Court decision adverted to, the probative value of his statements is practically nil. xxxx This Court finds merit to the manifestation of the accused Miranda dated October 18, 2001, praying for the summary dismissal of the two (2) murder charges in view of the latest decision of the Supreme

Court in People of the Philippines vs. Wilfredo Leao, et al., G.R. No. 13886, acquitting the accused therein and in effect disregarding all the evidence presented by the prosecution in that case. Accordingly, the two (2) informations [for] murder filed against Jose Miranda are ordered dismissed.34 This is a clear case of abuse of discretion. Judge Anghad had no right to twist our decision and interpret it to the discredit of SPO2 Maderal, who was still at large when the evidence of the prosecution in the Leao case was presented. A decision, even of this Court, acquitting the accused therein of a crime cannot be the basis of the dismissal of criminal case against different accused for the same crime. The blunder of Judge Anghad is even more pronounced by the fact that our decision in Leao was based on reasonable doubt. We never ruled in Leao that the crime did not happen; we just found that there was reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused therein, since the prosecution in that case relied on circumstantial evidence, which interestingly is not even the situation in the criminal cases of the petitioners in the case at bar as there is here an eyewitness: Rodel Maderal. The accused in Leao furthermore had no motive to kill respondent Tuliaos son, whereas petitioners herein had been implicated in the testimony of respondent Tuliao before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee. It is preposterous to conclude that because of our finding of reasonable doubt in Leao, "it is now beyond doubt that Rodel Maderal made untruthful, fabricated and perjured statements and therefore the same is without probable value."35 On the contrary, if we are to permit the use of our decision in Leao, an acquittal on the ground of reasonable doubt actually points to the probability of the prosecutions version of the facts therein. Such probability of guilt certainly meets the criteria of probable cause. We cannot let unnoticed, too, Judge Anghads dismissal of the informations two days after we resolved to issue, upon the filing of a bond, a temporary restraining order prohibiting him from further proceeding with the case. The bond was filed the day after the informations were dismissed. While the dismissal of the case was able to beat the effectivity date of the temporary restraining order, such abrupt dismissal of the informations (days after this Courts

resolve to issue a TRO against Judge Anghad) creates wild suspicions about the motives of Judge Anghad. Nullification of a proceeding necessarily carries with it the reinstatement of the orders set aside by the nullified proceeding. In their second assignment of error, petitioners claim that the Court of Appeals did not recall or reinstate the warrants of arrest issued by Judge Tumaliuan, but instead directed Judge Anghad to issue apparently new warrants of arrest.36 According to the petitioners, it was an error for the Court of Appeals to have done so, without a personal determination of probable cause. We disagree. Whether the Court of Appeals ordered the issuance of new warrants of arrest or merely ordered the reinstatement of the warrants of arrest issued by Judge Tumaliuan is merely a matter of scrupulous semantics, the slight inaccuracy whereof should not be allowed to affect the dispositions on the merits, especially in this case where the other dispositions of the Court of Appeals point to the other direction. Firstly, the Court of Appeals had reinstated the 25 June 2001 Order of Judge Tumaliuan,37 which issued the warrants of arrest. Secondly, the Court of Appeals likewise declared the proceedings conducted by Judge Anghad void. Certainly, the declaration of nullity of proceedings should be deemed to carry with it the reinstatement of the orders set aside by the nullified proceedings. Judge Anghads order quashing the warrants of arrest had been nullified; therefore those warrants of arrest are henceforth deemed unquashed. Even if, however, the Court of Appeals had directed the issuance of new warrants of arrest based on a determination of probable cause, it would have been legally permissible for them to do so. The records of the preliminary investigation had been available to the Court of Appeals, and are also available to this Court, allowing both the Court of Appeals and this Court to personally examine the records of the case and not merely rely on the certification of the prosecutor. As we have ruled in Allado v. Diokno and Roberts v. Court of Appeals, the determination of probable cause does not rest on a subjective criteria. As we had resolved in those cases to overrule the finding of probable cause of the judges therein on the ground of grave abuse of

discretion, in the same vein, we can also overrule the decision of a judge reversing a finding of probable cause, also on the ground of grave abuse of discretion. There is no double jeopardy in the reinstatement of a criminal case dismissed before arraignment In their third assignment of error, petitioners claim that the Court of Appeals committed a reversible error in ordering the reinstatement of Criminal Cases No. 36-3523 and No. 36-3524, alleging that the order of dismissal issued therein had become final and executory. According to petitioners: It is also worthy to point out at this juncture that the Joint Order of Judge Anghad dated November 14, 2001 is NOT ONE of those Orders which were assailed in the private respondent Tuliaos Petition for Certiorari, Mandamus and Prohibition filed by the private respondent before the Court of Appeals. As carefully enumerated in the first page of the assailed Decision, only the following Orders issued by Judge Anghad were questioned by private respondent, to wit: 1.) Joint Order dated August 17, 2001; 2.) Order dated September 21, 2001; 3.) Joint Order dated October 16, 2001; and 4.) Joint Order dated October 22, 2001. Obviously, the Joint Order dated November 14, 2001 of Judge Anghad, which ultimately dismissed Criminal Cases Nos. 36-3523 AND 36-3524 is NOT included in the list of the assailed Order/Joint Orders. Hence, the Court of Appeals should not have passed upon the validity or nullity of the Joint Order of November 14, 2001.38 Petitioners must have forgotten that respondent Tuliaos Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus was filed not with the Court of Appeals, but with this Court. The Court of Appeals decided the case because we referred the same to them in our 19 November 2001 Resolution. Such petition was filed on 25 October 2001, around three

weeks before the 14 November 2001 Order. Upon receipt of the 14 November 2001 Order, however, respondent Tuliao lost no time in filing with this Court a Motion to Cite Public Respondent in Contempt, alleging that Judge Anghad "deliberately and willfully committed contempt of court when he issued on 15 November 2001 the Order dated 14 November 2001 dismissing the informations for murder." On 21 November 2001, we referred said motion to the Court of Appeals, in view of the previous referral of respondent Tuliaos petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus. Our referral to the Court of Appeals of the Motion to Cite Public Repondent in Contempt places the 14 November 2001 Order within the issues of the case decided by the Court of Appeals. In claiming that Judge Anghad committed contempt of this Court in issuing the 14 November 2001 Order, respondent Tuliao had ascribed to Judge Anghad an act much more serious than grave abuse of discretion. Respondent Tuliao claims that Judge Anghad issued the 14 November 2001 Order on 15 November 2001, antedating it so as to avoid the effects of our 12 November 2001 Resolution. In said 12 November 2001 Resolution, we resolved to issue a temporary restraining order enjoining Judge Anghad from further proceeding with the criminal cases upon the respondent Tuliaos filing of a bond in the amount of P20,000.00. Respondent Tuliao had filed the bond on 15 November 2005. While we cannot immediately pronounce Judge Anghad in contempt, seeing as disobedience to lawful orders of a court and abuse of court processes are cases of indirect contempt which require the granting of opportunity to be heard on the part of respondent,39 the prayer to cite public respondent in contempt and for other reliefs just and equitable under the premises should be construed to include a prayer for the nullification of said 14 November 2001 Order. In any case, the reinstatement of a criminal case dismissed before arraignment does not constitute double jeopardy. Double jeopardy cannot be invoked where the accused has not been arraigned and it was upon his express motion that the case was dismissed.40 As to respondent Tuliaos prayer (in both the original petition for

certiorari as well as in his motion to cite for contempt) to disqualify Judge Anghad from further proceeding with the case, we hold that the number of instances of abuse of discretion in this case are enough to convince us of an apparent bias on the part of Judge Anghad. We further resolve to follow the case of People v. SPO1 Leao,41 by transferring the venue of Criminal Cases No. 36-3523 and No. 363524 to the City of Manila, pursuant to Article VIII, Section 4, of the Constitution. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated 18 December 2002 and the Resolution dated 12 June 2003 of the Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED, with the modification that Criminal Cases No. 36-3523 and No. 36-3524 be transferred to and raffled in the Regional Trial Court of the City of Manila. In this connection, 1) Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Executive Judge of the RTC of the City of Santiago, Isabela, who is directed to effect the transfer of the cases within ten (10) days after receipt hereof; 2) The Executive Judge of the RTC of the City of Santiago, Isabela, is likewise directed to report to this Court compliance hereto within ten (10) days from transfer of these cases; 3) The Executive Judge of the City of Manila shall proceed to raffle the criminal cases within ten (10) days from the transfer; 4) The Executive Judge of the City of Manila is likewise directed to report to this Court compliance with the order to raffle within ten (10) days from said compliance; and 5) The RTC Judge to whom the criminal cases are raffled is directed to act on said cases with reasonable dispatch. 6) Finally, Judge Anastacio D. Anghad is directed to issue forthwith warrants of arrest for the apprehension of petitioners Jose C. Miranda, Alberto P. Dalmacio, Romeo B. Ocon, and accused Rodel T. Maderal, conformably with the decision of the Court of Appeals dated 18 December 2002. The Temporary Restraining Order issued by this Court dated 4 August 2003 is hereby LIFTED. Costs against Petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

THIRD DIVISION [G.R. No. 147406, July 14, 2008] VENANCIO FIGUEROA Y CERVANTES,[1] PETITIONER, VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES RESPONDENT. DECISION
NACHURA, J.: When is a litigant estopped by laches from assailing the jurisdiction of a tribunal? This is the paramount issue raised in this petition for review of the February 28, 2001 Decision[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 22697. Pertinent are the following antecedent facts and proceedings: On July 8, 1994, an information[3] for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide was filed against the petitioner before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bulacan, Branch 18.[4] The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 2235-M-94.[5] Trial on the merits ensued and on August 19, 1998, the trial court convicted the petitioner as charged.[6] In his appeal before the CA, the petitioner questioned, among others, for the first time, the trial court's jurisdiction.[7] The appellate court, however, in the challenged decision, considered the petitioner to have actively participated in the trial and to have belatedly attacked the jurisdiction of the RTC; thus, he was already estopped by laches from asserting the trial court's lack of jurisdiction. Finding no other ground to reverse the trial court's decision, the CA affirmed the petitioner's conviction but modified the penalty imposed and the damages awarded.[8] Dissatisfied, the petitioner filed the instant petition for review on certiorari raising the following issues for our resolution: a. Does the fact that the petitioner failed to raise the issue of jurisdiction during the trial of this case, which was initiated and filed by the public prosecutor before the wrong court, constitute laches in relation to the doctrine laid down in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, notwithstanding the fact that said issue was immediately raised in petitioner's appeal to the Honorable Court of Appeals? Conversely, does the active participation of the petitioner in the trial of his case, which is initiated and filed not by him but by the public prosecutor, amount to estoppel? b.Does the admission of the petitioner that it is difficult to immediately stop a bus while it is running at 40 kilometers per hour for the purpose of avoiding a person who unexpectedly crossed the road, constitute enough incriminating evidence to warrant his conviction for the crime

charged? c. Is the Honorable Court of Appeals justified in considering the place of accident as falling within Item 4 of Section 35 (b) of the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, and subsequently ruling that the speed limit thereto is only 20 kilometers per hour, when no evidence whatsoever to that effect was ever presented by the prosecution during the trial of this case? d.Is the Honorable Court of Appeals justified in convicting the petitioner for homicide through reckless imprudence (the legally correct designation is "reckless imprudence resulting to homicide") with violation of the Land Transportation and Traffic Code when the prosecution did not prove this during the trial and, more importantly, the information filed against the petitioner does not contain an allegation to that effect? e. Does the uncontroverted testimony of the defense witness Leonardo Hernal that the victim unexpectedly crossed the road resulting in him getting hit by the bus driven by the petitioner not enough evidence to acquit him of the crime charged?[9] Applied uniformly is the familiar rule that the jurisdiction of the court to hear and decide a case is conferred by the law in force at the time of the institution of the action, unless such statute provides for a retroactive application thereof.[10] In this case, at the time the criminal information for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide with violation of the Automobile Law (now Land Transportation and Traffic Code) was filed, Section 32(2) of Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 129[11] had already been amended by Republic Act No. 7691. [12] The said provision thus reads: Sec. 32. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Criminal Cases.--Except in cases falling within the exclusive original jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts and the Sandiganbayan, the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise: xxxx (2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable with imprisonment not exceeding six (6) years irrespective of the amount of fine, and regardless of other imposable accessory or other penalties, including the civil liability arising from such offenses or predicated thereon, irrespective of kind, nature, value or amount thereof: Provided, however, That in offenses involving damage to property through criminal negligence, they shall have exclusive original jurisdiction thereof. As the imposable penalty for the crime charged herein is prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods or imprisonment for 2 years, 4 months and 1 day to 6 years,[13] jurisdiction to hear and try the same is conferred on the Municipal Trial Courts (MTCs). Clearly, therefore, the RTC of Bulacan does not have jurisdiction over Criminal Case No. 2235-M-94. While both the appellate court and the Solicitor General acknowledge this fact, they nevertheless are of the position that the principle of estoppel by

laches has already precluded the petitioner from questioning the jurisdiction of the RTC--the trial went on for 4 years with the petitioner actively participating therein and without him ever raising the jurisdictional infirmity. The petitioner, for his part, counters that the lack of jurisdiction of a court over the subject matter may be raised at any time even for the first time on appeal. As undue delay is further absent herein, the principle of laches will not be applicable. To settle once and for all this problem of jurisdiction vis--vis estoppel by laches, which continuously confounds the bench and the bar, we shall analyze the various Court decisions on the matter. As early as 1901, this Court has declared that unless jurisdiction has been conferred by some legislative act, no court or tribunal can act on a matter submitted to it.[14] We went on to state in U.S. v. De La Santa [15] that: It has been frequently held that a lack of jurisdiction over the subject-matter is fatal, and subject to objection at any stage of the proceedings, either in the court below or on appeal (Ency. of Pl. & Pr., vol. 12, p. 189, and large array of cases there cited), and indeed, where the subject-matter is not within the jurisdiction, the court may dismiss the proceeding ex mero motu. (4 Ill., 133; 190 Ind., 79; Chipman vs. Waterbury, 59 Conn., 496.) Jurisdiction over the subject-matter in a judicial proceeding is conferred by the sovereign authority which organizes the court; it is given only by law and in the manner prescribed by law and an objection based on the lack of such jurisdiction can not be waived by the parties. x x x [16] Later, in People v. Casiano,[17] the Court explained: 4. The operation of the principle of estoppel on the question of jurisdiction seemingly depends upon whether the lower court actually had jurisdiction or not. If it had no jurisdiction, but the case was tried and decided upon the theory that it had jurisdiction, the parties are not barred, on appeal, from assailing such jurisdiction, for the same "must exist as a matter of law, and may not be conferred by consent of the parties or by estoppel" (5 C.J.S., 861-863). However, if the lower court had jurisdiction, and the case was heard and decided upon a given theory, such, for instance, as that the court had no jurisdiction, the party who induced it to adopt such theory will not be permitted, on appeal, to assume an inconsistent position--that the lower court had jurisdiction. Here, the principle of estoppel applies. The rule that jurisdiction is conferred by law, and does not depend upon the will of the parties, has no bearing thereon. Thus, Corpus Juris Secundum says: Where accused has secured a decision that the indictment is void, or has been granted an instruction based on its defective character directing the jury to acquit, he is estopped, when subsequently indicted, to assert that the former indictment was valid. In such case, there may be a new prosecution whether the indictment in the former prosecution was good or bad. Similarly, where, after the jury was impaneled and sworn, the court on accused's motion quashed the information on the erroneous assumption that the court

had no jurisdiction, accused cannot successfully plead former jeopardy to a new information. x x x (22 C.J.S., sec. 252, pp. 388-389; italics ours.) Where accused procured a prior conviction to be set aside on the ground that the court was without jurisdiction, he is estopped subsequently to assert, in support of a defense of previous jeopardy, that such court had jurisdiction." (22 C.J.S. p. 378.)[18] But in Pindagan Agricultural Co., Inc. v. Dans,[19] the Court, in not sustaining the plea of lack of jurisdiction by the plaintiff-appellee therein, made the following observations: It is surprising why it is only now, after the decision has been rendered, that the plaintiff-appellee presents the question of this Court's jurisdiction over the case. Republic Act No. 2613 was enacted on August 1, 1959. This case was argued on January 29, 1960. Notwithstanding this fact, the jurisdiction of this Court was never impugned until the adverse decision of this Court was handed down. The conduct of counsel leads us to believe that they must have always been of the belief that notwithstanding said enactment of Republic Act 2613 this Court has jurisdiction of the case, such conduct being born out of a conviction that the actual real value of the properties in question actually exceeds the jurisdictional amount of this Court (over P200,000). Our minute resolution in G.R. No. L-10096, Hyson Tan, et al. vs. Filipinas Compaa de Seguros, et al., of March 23, 1956, a parallel case, is applicable to the conduct of plaintiff-appellee in this case, thus: x x x that an appellant who files his brief and submits his case to the Court of Appeals for decision, without questioning the latter's jurisdiction until decision is rendered therein, should be considered as having voluntarily waived so much of his claim as would exceed the jurisdiction of said Appellate Court; for the reason that a contrary rule would encourage the undesirable practice of appellants submitting their cases for decision to the Court of Appeals in expectation of favorable judgment, but with intent of attacking its jurisdiction should the decision be unfavorable: x x x[20] Then came our ruling in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy[21] that a party may be barred by laches from invoking lack of jurisdiction at a late hour for the purpose of annulling everything done in the case with the active participation of said party invoking the plea. We expounded, thus: A party may be estopped or barred from raising a question in different ways and for different reasons. Thus, we speak of estoppel in pais, of estoppel by deed or by record, and of estoppel by laches . Laches, in a general sense, is failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. The doctrine of laches or of "stale demands" is based upon grounds of public policy which requires, for the peace of society, the discouragement of stale claims and, unlike the statute of limitations, is not a mere question of time

but is principally a question of the inequity or unfairness of permitting a right or claim to be enforced or asserted. It has been held that a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief against his opponent and, after obtaining or failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question that same jurisdiction (Dean vs. Dean, 136 Or. 694, 86 A.L.R. 79). In the case just cited, by way of explaining the rule, it was further said that the question whether the court had jurisdiction either of the subject matter of the action or of the parties was not important in such cases because the party is barred from such conduct not because the judgment or order of the court is valid and conclusive as an adjudication, but for the reason that such a practice cannot be tolerated-obviously for reasons of public policy. Furthermore, it has also been held that after voluntarily submitting a cause and encountering an adverse decision on the merits, it is too late for the loser to question the jurisdiction or power of the court (Pease vs. RathbunJones etc., 243 U.S. 273, 61 L. Ed. 715, 37 S.Ct. 283; St. Louis etc. vs. McBride, 141 U.S. 127, 35 L. Ed. 659). And in Littleton vs. Burgess, 16 Wyo. 58, the Court said that it is not right for a party who has affirmed and invoked the jurisdiction of a court in a particular matter to secure an affirmative relief, to afterwards deny that same jurisdiction to escape a penalty. Upon this same principle is what We said in the three cases mentioned in the resolution of the Court of Appeals of May 20, 1963 (supra)--to the effect that we frown upon the "undesirable practice" of a party submitting his case for decision and then accepting the judgment, only if favorable, and attacking it for lack of jurisdiction, when adverse--as well as in Pindagan etc. vs. Dans et al., G.R. L-14591, September 26, 1962; Montelibano et al. vs. BacolodMurcia Milling Co., Inc., G.R. L-15092; Young Men Labor Union etc. vs. The Court of Industrial Relations et al., G.R. L-20307, Feb. 26, 1965, and Mejia vs. Lucas, 100 Phil. p. 277. The facts of this case show that from the time the Surety became a quasiparty on July 31, 1948, it could have raised the question of the lack of jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of Cebu to take cognizance of the present action by reason of the sum of money involved which, according to the law then in force, was within the original exclusive jurisdiction of inferior courts. It failed to do so. Instead, at several stages of the proceedings in the court a quo, as well as in the Court of Appeals, it invoked the jurisdiction of said courts to obtain affirmative relief and submitted its case for a final adjudication on the merits. It was only after an adverse decision was rendered by the Court of Appeals that it finally woke up to raise the question of jurisdiction. Were we to sanction such conduct on its part, We would in effect be declaring as useless all the proceedings had in the present case since it was commenced on July 19, 1948 and compel the judgment creditors to go up their Calvary once more. The inequity and unfairness of this is not

only patent but revolting.[22] For quite a time since we made this pronouncement in Sibonghanoy, courts and tribunals, in resolving issues that involve the belated invocation of lack of jurisdiction, have applied the principle of estoppel by laches. Thus, in Calimlim v. Ramirez,[23] we pointed out that Sibonghanoy was developing into a general rule rather than the exception: A rule that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and upheld in decisions so numerous to cite is that the jurisdiction of a court over the subject-matter of the action is a matter of law and may not be conferred by consent or agreement of the parties. The lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal. This doctrine has been qualified by recent pronouncements which stemmed principally from the ruling in the cited case of Sibonghanoy. It is to be regretted, however, that the holding in said case had been applied to situations which were obviously not contemplated therein. The exceptional circumstance involved in Sibonghanoy which justified the departure from the accepted concept of nonwaivability of objection to jurisdiction has been ignored and, instead a blanket doctrine had been repeatedly upheld that rendered the supposed ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception, but rather the general rule, virtually overthrowing altogether the time-honored principle that the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. In Sibonghanoy, the defense of lack of jurisdiction of the court that rendered the questioned ruling was held to be barred by estoppel by laches. It was ruled that the lack of jurisdiction having been raised for the first time in a motion to dismiss filed almost fifteen (15) years after the questioned ruling had been rendered, such a plea may no longer be raised for being barred by laches. As defined in said case, laches is "failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert has abandoned it or declined to assert it. [24] In Calimlim, despite the fact that the one who benefited from the plea of lack of jurisdiction was the one who invoked the court's jurisdiction, and who later obtained an adverse judgment therein, we refused to apply the ruling in Sibonghanoy. The Court accorded supremacy to the time-honored principle that the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. Yet, in subsequent cases decided after Calimlim, which by sheer volume are too plentiful to mention, the Sibonghanoy doctrine, as foretold in Calimlim, became the rule rather than the exception. As such, in Soliven v. Fastforms Philippines, Inc.,[25] the Court ruled: While it is true that jurisdiction may be raised at any time, "this rule presupposes that estoppel has not supervened." In the instant case, respondent actively participated in all stages of the proceedings before the trial court and invoked its authority by asking for an affirmative relief.

Clearly, respondent is estopped from challenging the trial court's jurisdiction, especially when an adverse judgment has been rendered. In PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, we held: Moreover, we note that petitioner did not question at all the jurisdiction of the lower court x x x in its answers to both the amended complaint and the second amended complaint. It did so only in its motion for reconsideration of the decision of the lower court after it had received an adverse decision. As this Court held in Pantranco North Express, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 105180, July 5, 1993, 224 SCRA 477, 491), participation in all stages of the case before the trial court, that included invoking its authority in asking for affirmative relief, effectively barre petitioner by estoppel from challenging the court's jurisdiction. Notably, from the time it filed its answer to the second amended complaint on April 16, 1985, petitioner did not question the lower court's jurisdiction. It was only on December 29, 1989 when it filed its motion for reconsideration of the lower court's decision that petitioner raised the question of the lower court's lack of jurisdiction. Petitioner thus foreclosed its right to raise the issue of jurisdiction by its own inaction. (italics ours) Similarly, in the subsequent case of Sta. Lucia Realty and Development, Inc. vs. Cabrigas, we ruled: In the case at bar, it was found by the trial court in its 30 September 1996 decision in LCR Case No. Q-60161(93) that private respondents (who filed the petition for reconstitution of titles) failed to comply with both sections 12 and 13 of RA 26 and therefore, it had no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case. However, private respondents never questioned the trial court's jurisdiction over its petition for reconstitution throughout the duration of LCR Case No. Q-60161(93). On the contrary, private respondents actively participated in the reconstitution proceedings by filing pleadings and presenting its evidence. They invoked the trial court's jurisdiction in order to obtain affirmative relief - the reconstitution of their titles. Private respondents have thus foreclosed their right to raise the issue of jurisdiction by their own actions. The Court has constantly upheld the doctrine that while jurisdiction may be assailed at any stage, a litigant's participation in all stages of the case before the trial court, including the invocation of its authority in asking for affirmative relief, bars such party from challenging the court's jurisdiction (PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 297 SCRA 402 [1998]). A party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure affirmative relief against his opponent and after obtaining or failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question that same jurisdiction (Asset Privatization Trust vs. Court of Appeals, 300 SCRA 579 [1998]; Province of Bulacan vs. Court of Appeals, 299 SCRA 442 [1998]). The Court frowns upon the undesirable practice of a party participating in the proceedings and submitting his case for decision and then accepting judgment, only if favorable, and attacking it for lack of jurisdiction, when adverse (Producers Bank of the Philippines vs. NLRC, 298 SCRA 517 [1998], citing Ilocos Sur Electric Cooperative, Inc. vs. NLRC, 241 SCRA 36 [1995]). (italics ours)[26]

Noteworthy, however, is that, in the 2005 case of Metromedia Times Corporation v. Pastorin,[27] where the issue of lack of jurisdiction was raised only in the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) on appeal, we stated, after examining the doctrines of jurisdiction vis--vis estoppel, that the ruling in Sibonghanoy stands as an exception, rather than the general rule. Metromedia, thus, was not estopped from assailing the jurisdiction of the labor arbiter before the NLRC on appeal.[28] Later, in Francel Realty Corporation v. Sycip,[29] the Court clarified that: Petitioner argues that the CA's affirmation of the trial court's dismissal of its case was erroneous, considering that a full-blown trial had already been conducted. In effect, it contends that lack of jurisdiction could no longer be used as a ground for dismissal after trial had ensued and ended. The above argument is anchored on estoppel by laches, which has been used quite successfully in a number of cases to thwart dismissals based on lack of jurisdiction. Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, in which this doctrine was espoused, held that a party may be barred from questioning a court's jurisdiction after being invoked to secure affirmative relief against its opponent. In fine, laches prevents the issue of lack of jurisdiction from being raised for the first time on appeal by a litigant whose purpose is to annul everything done in a trial in which it has actively participated. Laches is defined as the "failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it." The ruling in Sibonghanoy on the matter of jurisdiction is, however, the exception rather than the rule. Estoppel by laches may be invoked to bar the issue of lack of jurisdiction only in cases in which the factual milieu is analogous to that in the cited case. In such controversies, laches should be clearly present; that is, lack of jurisdiction must have been raised so belatedly as to warrant the presumption that the party entitled to assert it had abandoned or declined to assert it.That Sibonghanoy applies only to exceptional circumstances is clarified in Calimlim v. Ramirez, which we quote: A rule that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and upheld in decisions so numerous to cite is that the jurisdiction of a court over the subject-matter of the action is a matter of law and may not be conferred by consent or agreement of the parties. The lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal. This doctrine has been qualified by recent pronouncements which stemmed principally from the ruling in the cited case of Sibonghanoy. It is to be regretted, however, that the holding in said case had been applied to situations which were obviously not contemplated therein. The exceptional circumstance involved in Sibonghanoy which justified the departure from the accepted concept of non-

waivability of objection to jurisdiction has been ignored and, instead a blanket doctrine had been repeatedly upheld that rendered the supposed ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception, but rather the general rule, virtually overthrowing altogether the time-honored principle that the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel . Indeed, the general rule remains: a court's lack of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal. The reason is that jurisdiction is conferred by law, and lack of it affects the very authority of the court to take cognizance of and to render judgment on the action. Moreover, jurisdiction is determined by the averments of the complaint, not by the defenses contained in the answer.[30] Also, in Mangaliag v. Catubig-Pastoral,[31] even if the pleader of lack of jurisdiction actively took part in the trial proceedings by presenting a witness to seek exoneration, the Court, reiterating the doctrine in Calimlim, said: Private respondent argues that the defense of lack of jurisdiction may be waived by estoppel through active participation in the trial. Such, however, is not the general rule but an exception, best characterized by the peculiar circumstances in Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy. In Sibonghanoy, the party invoking lack of jurisdiction did so only after fifteen years and at a stage when the proceedings had already been elevated to the CA. Sibonghanoy is an exceptional case because of the presence of laches, which was defined therein as failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is the negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert has abandoned it or declined to assert it.[32] And in the more recent Regalado v. Go,[33] the Court again emphasized that laches should be clearly present for the Sibonghanoy doctrine to be applicable, thus: Laches is defined as the "failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier, it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable length of time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it." The ruling in People v. Regalario that was based on the landmark doctrine enunciated in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy on the matter of jurisdiction by estoppel is the exception rather than the rule. Estoppel by laches may be invoked to bar the issue of lack of jurisdiction only in cases in which the factual milieu is analogous to that in the cited case. In such controversies, laches should have been clearly present; that is, lack of jurisdiction must have been raised so belatedly as to warrant the presumption that the party entitled to assert it had abandoned or declined to assert it. In Sibonghanoy, the defense of lack of jurisdiction was raised for the first time in a motion to dismiss filed by the Surety almost 15 years after the questioned ruling had been rendered. At several stages of the proceedings, in the court a quo as well as in the Court of Appeals, the Surety invoked the

jurisdiction of the said courts to obtain affirmative relief and submitted its case for final adjudication on the merits. It was only when the adverse decision was rendered by the Court of Appeals that it finally woke up to raise the question of jurisdiction. Clearly, the factual settings attendant in Sibonghanoy are not present in the case at bar. Petitioner Atty. Regalado, after the receipt of the Court of Appeals resolution finding her guilty of contempt, promptly filed a Motion for Reconsideration assailing the said court's jurisdiction based on procedural infirmity in initiating the action. Her compliance with the appellate court's directive to show cause why she should not be cited for contempt and filing a single piece of pleading to that effect could not be considered as an active participation in the judicial proceedings so as to take the case within the milieu of Sibonghanoy. Rather, it is the natural fear to disobey the mandate of the court that could lead to dire consequences that impelled her to comply.[34] The Court, thus, wavered on when to apply the exceptional circumstance in Sibonghanoy and on when to apply the general rule enunciated as early as in De La Santa and expounded at length in Calimlim. The general rule should, however, be, as it has always been, that the issue of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal, and is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. Estoppel by laches, to bar a litigant from asserting the court's absence or lack of jurisdiction, only supervenes in exceptional cases similar to the factual milieu of Tijam v. Sibonghanoy. Indeed, the fact that a person attempts to invoke unauthorized jurisdiction of a court does not estop him from thereafter challenging its jurisdiction over the subject matter, since such jurisdiction must arise by law and not by mere consent of the parties. This is especially true where the person seeking to invoke unauthorized jurisdiction of the court does not thereby secure any advantage or the adverse party does not suffer any harm.[35] Applying the said doctrine to the instant case, the petitioner is in no way estopped by laches in assailing the jurisdiction of the RTC, considering that he raised the lack thereof in his appeal before the appellate court. At that time, no considerable period had yet elapsed for laches to attach. True, delay alone, though unreasonable, will not sustain the defense of "estoppel by laches" unless it further appears that the party, knowing his rights, has not sought to enforce them until the condition of the party pleading laches has in good faith become so changed that he cannot be restored to his former state, if the rights be then enforced, due to loss of evidence, change of title, intervention of equities, and other causes.[36] In applying the principle of estoppel by laches in the exceptional case of Sibonghanoy, the Court therein considered the patent and revolting inequity and unfairness of having the judgment creditors go up their Calvary once more after more or less 15 years. [37] The same, however, does not obtain in the instant case. We note at this point that estoppel, being in the nature of a forfeiture, is not favored by law. It is to be applied rarely--only from necessity, and only in

extraordinary circumstances. The doctrine must be applied with great care and the equity must be strong in its favor.[38] When misapplied, the doctrine of estoppel may be a most effective weapon for the accomplishment of injustice.[39] Moreover, a judgment rendered without jurisdiction over the subject matter is void.[40] Hence, the Revised Rules of Court provides for remedies in attacking judgments rendered by courts or tribunals that have no jurisdiction over the concerned cases. No laches will even attach when the judgment is null and void for want of jurisdiction.[41] As we have stated in Heirs of Julian Dela Cruz and Leonora Talaro v. Heirs of Alberto Cruz,[42] It is axiomatic that the jurisdiction of a tribunal, including a quasi-judicial officer or government agency, over the nature and subject matter of a petition or complaint is determined by the material allegations therein and the character of the relief prayed for, irrespective of whether the petitioner or complainant is entitled to any or all such reliefs. Jurisdiction over the nature and subject matter of an action is conferred by the Constitution and the law, and not by the consent or waiver of the parties where the court otherwise would have no jurisdiction over the nature or subject matter of the action. Nor can it be acquired through, or waived by, any act or omission of the parties. Moreover, estoppel does not apply to confer jurisdiction to a tribunal that has none over the cause of action.x x x Indeed, the jurisdiction of the court or tribunal is not affected by the defenses or theories set up by the defendant or respondent in his answer or motion to dismiss. Jurisdiction should be determined by considering not only the status or the relationship of the parties but also the nature of the issues or questions that is the subject of the controversy. x x x x The proceedings before a court or tribunal without jurisdiction, including its decision, are null and void, hence, susceptible to direct and collateral attacks .[43] With the above considerations, we find it unnecessary to resolve the other issues raised in the petition. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for review on certiorari is GRANTED. Criminal Case No. 2235- M-94 is hereby DISMISSED without prejudice. SO ORDERED.

THIRD DIVISION
HEIRS OF JANE HONRALES, Petitioners, - versus JONATHAN HONRALES, Respondent. x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and HEIRS OF JANE HONRALES, Petitioners, G.R. No. 182657 Present: G.R. No. 182651

-versus-

CARPIO MORALES, J Chairperson, BRION, VILLARAMA, JR., PEREZ, and SERENO, JJ. Promulgated:

JONATHAN HONRALES, Respondent.

August 25, 2010 x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

- - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.: Before this Court are petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, assailing the October 1, 2007 Decision[1] and April 3, 2008 Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 92755. The antecedents are as follows: On August 19, 2002, Jane Honrales was fatally shot by her husband, respondent Jonathan Honrales. Thus, in a Resolution[3] dated October 28, 2002, Bernardino R. Camba, Assistant City Prosecutor of Manila, recommended the filing of an information for parricide against respondent. On November 18, 2002, the following Information[4] was filed against respondent with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila:
That on or about August 19, 2002, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, with intent to kill, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and use personal violence upon one JANE HONRALES y ILAGAN, his legal wife, by then and there shooting her with a 45 cal. pistol, thereby inflicting upon the latter a gunshot wound of the head and neck which was the direct and immediate cause of her death thereafter. Contrary to law.

On November 21, 2002, Judge Teresa P. Soriaso of the RTC of Manila, Branch 27, ordered respondents arrest.[5]

On November 22, 2002, respondent moved to reconsider[6] the October 28, 2002 Resolution of Assistant City Prosecutor Camba which recommended the filing of parricide charges. Respondent later also filed a supplement to his motion. In view of respondents motion for reconsideration, 2nd Assistant City Prosecutor Alfredo E. Ednave moved that the RTC defer proceedings.[7] Respondent in turn filed an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Recall Warrant of Arrest,[8] which the public prosecutor opposed.[9] On December 12, 2002, the RTC issued an Order[10] deferring proceedings in view of the pendency of respondents motion for reconsideration. It, however, denied the motion to recall the arrest warrant since deferment of proceedings does not impair the validity of the information or otherwise render the same defective. Neither does it affect the jurisdiction of the court over the offense as would constitute a ground for quashing the information. The trial court further held that considering the evidence submitted, it finds probable cause for the issuance of the arrest warrant. On May 21, 2003, 2nd Assistant City Prosecutor Laura D. Biglang-Awa filed a Motion for Leave to Conduct Reinvestigation[11] with the RTC in light of the affidavit of one (1) Michelle C. Luna, which respondent, in his motion/supplemental motion for reconsideration, argues will belie the statement of witness for the complainant, John James Honrales that

the shooting of the victim . . . was intentional. On May 30, 2003, the RTC issued an Order[12] granting leave to conduct the reinvestigation and authorizing 2nd Assistant City Prosecutor Biglang-Awa to reinvestigate the case. On September 9, 2003, the heirs of the victim (petitioner heirs) moved before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila for the inhibition[13] of 2nd Assistant City Prosecutor Biglang-Awa from conducting the reinvestigation and praying that the case be remanded to the court for trial.[14] On September 25, 2003, City Prosecutor Ramon R. Garcia issued Office Order No. 1640[15] reassigning the case to Assistant City Prosecutor Antonio R. Rebagay. Hearings were scheduled on October 15 and 22, 2003. On October 15, 2003, both parties appeared but petitioner heirs manifested that they earlier moved to reconsider Office Order No. 1640. Respondent moved that he be given up to October 22, 2003 to file an opposition. On October 22, 2003, respondent filed his opposition. Counsel for petitioner heirs then manifested that they be given until November 5, 2003 to submit a reply thereto. On November 17, 2003, Assistant City Prosecutor Rebagay issued an Order[16] denying petitioners motion to reconsider Office Order No. 1640 and set the continuation of the hearings on December 3 and 10,

2003. On December 3, 2003, both parties appeared. Petitioner heirs moved that the hearing be suspended on the ground that they have filed a petition for review before the Department of Justice (DOJ) to assail the Order of November 17, 2003. Respondents counsel objected in view of the presence of their witness Michelle Luna. Thus, the hearing proceeded. After the hearing, petitioner heirs moved for the cancellation of the December 10, 2003 hearing and filed a formal motion to that effect. On December 15, 2003, respondent filed a Motion and Manifestation praying that the case be submitted for resolution or, in the alternative, that it be set for final clarificatory hearing on December 22, 2003. The following day or on December 16, 2003, Assistant City Prosecutor Rebagay issued an Order denying the prayers for suspension and submission of the case for resolution and instead set the hearing on December 22, 2003. On December 19, 2003, however, Assistant City Prosecutor Rebagay issued a Resolution[17] setting aside the October 28, 2002 Resolution and recommending the withdrawal of the information for parricide and the filing of an information for reckless imprudence resulting in parricide in its stead. City Prosecutor Garcia approved the Resolution. On January 16, 2004, Assistant City Prosecutor Rebagay filed with the RTC a motion to withdraw the

information for parricide.[18] On January 28, 2004, while the Motion to Withdraw Information was still pending, an Information[19] for Reckless Imprudence resulting in Parricide was filed against respondent before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Manila. The Information reads,
That on or about August 19, 2002, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, being then in possession of a 45 cal. pistol, did then and there unlawfully and feloniously, after removing the bullets of the gun in a careless, reckless, negligent and imprudent manner playfully poked the gun to his maid, son and to his wife, by then and there accidentally shooting upon one JANE HONRALES, his legal wife, inflicting upon the latter a gun shot wound of the head and the neck which was the direct and immediate cause of her death thereafter. CONTRARY TO LAW.

Determined to have respondent prosecuted for parricide, petitioner heirs filed a petition for review[20] with the DOJ questioning the downgrading of the offense. They likewise filed an Opposition to Motion to Withdraw Information[21] with the RTC arguing that there was no final resolution yet downgrading the charge against respondent that would justify withdrawal of the Information for parricide. On February 17, 2004, petitioner heirs filed an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion to Defer Proceedings[22] with the RTC to give time to the DOJ Secretary to resolve their petition for review.

On March 17, 2004, the DOJ, through Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito R. Zuo, dismissed the petitions for review assailing (1) the Order dated November 17, 2003 of Assistant City Prosecutor Rebagay denying the urgent motion to reconsider Office Order No. 1640 and (2) the Resolution dated December 19, 2003 finding probable cause against respondent for reckless imprudence resulting in parricide, instead of intentional parricide as charged.[23] Petitioner heirs moved to reconsider[24] the Resolution, and the RTC of Manila issued an Order[25] on April 14, 2004, holding in abeyance the resolution of the pending incidents in the parricide case in view of the said motion for reconsideration. On May 14, 2004, the DOJ, through Chief State Prosecutor Zuo, denied petitioners motion for reconsideration.[26] Thus, Judge Soriaso of the RTC of Manila issued an Order[27] on May 28, 2004 considering the motion to withdraw the Information submitted for resolution. Undaunted by the denial of their motion for reconsideration, however, petitioners again filed a petition for review[28] with the DOJ on June 14, 2004, assailing said denial. Said petition, however, was dismissed with finality by the DOJ in a Resolution[29] dated July 14, 2004. Contending that the petition for review before the DOJ questioning the downgrading of the offense was no longer an impediment to the resolution of the pending

Motion to Withdraw Information, respondent promptly filed with the RTC a Manifestation with Reiteration to Resolve the Motion to Withdraw Information.[30] On August 5, 2004, petitioner heirs appealed[31] the dismissal of their petitions to the Office of the President (OP). Thus, on August 6, 2004, Judge Soriaso reiterated her previous ruling to hold in abeyance the resolution of the motion to withdraw in deference to the appeal taking its course before the OP.[32] In the meantime, on October 11, 2004, respondent was arraigned before the MeTC and pleaded guilty to the charge of reckless imprudence resulting in parricide. He was accordingly sentenced to suffer the penalty of one (1) year, seven (7) months and eleven (11) days to two (2) years, ten (10) months and twenty (20) days of prision correccional.[33] On October 27, 2004, respondent filed with the RTC a motion[34] seeking to dismiss the parricide charges against him. He cited his arraignment and conviction by the MeTC as grounds for the dismissal of the case against him. On October 28, 2004, petitioner heirs filed with the MeTC a motion[35] to nullify the proceedings held on October 11, 2004. They claimed that they were denied procedural due process since October 11, 2004 was not the agreed date for respondents arraignment but October 18, 2004. They also argued that the Information before the MeTC was invalid. On December 6, 2004, the OP dismissed

petitioner heirs appeal of the DOJ Resolution.[36] Petitioner heirs promptly moved to reconsider the OPs dismissal of their appeal, but their motion was denied by Resolution[37] dated April 20, 2005. On May 5, 2005, respondent moved for Judge Soriasos inhibition[38] alleging bias in favor of the prosecution as shown by her continued inaction on his motion to withdraw Information. On June 6, 2005, petitioner heirs filed before the CA an appeal by certiorari[39] under Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, assailing the denial by the OP of their motion for reconsideration. On June 30, 2005, Judge Soriaso inhibited herself from the case.[40] The case was eventually re-raffled off to Branch 54 presided over by Judge Manuel M. Barrios. Shortly thereafter, Judge Barrios issued an Order[41] on September 26, 2005 granting the withdrawal of the Information for parricide and recalling the warrant of arrest issued against respondent. Judge Barrios ruled that the Information for parricide found itself without a supporting resolution and thus its withdrawal was appropriate. On October 14, 2005, petitioner heirs filed a motion for reconsideration[42] of the September 26, 2005 Order but their motion was noted without action on November 3, 2005, as it was made without the approval or intervention of the Public Prosecutor.[43] On January 9, 2006, petitioner heirs filed a

petition for certiorari[44] with the CA assailing the September 26, 2005 and November 3, 2005 Orders issued by the RTC through Judge Barrios. Petitioner heirs argued that Judge Barrios granted the motion to withdraw the Information for parricide on grounds other than his personal and independent findings. They likewise contended that Judge Barrios should not have granted the withdrawal of the Information and recall of the arrest warrant since he knew that their appeal with the CA disputing the downgrading of the offense was still pending. Petitioner heirs further argued that the adoption of a contrary stand by the prosecutor after the filing of the Information for parricide should not bar them from prosecuting the case actively sans supervision and intervention of the prosecutor. On August 16, 2006, petitioner heirs filed a Motion to Implead the People of the Philippines as party respondent.[45] On August 31, 2006, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a similar motion[46] and further prayed that it be furnished a copy of the petition and be given time to file its comment. On October 10, 2006, the CA granted the motions.[47] On October 1, 2007, the CA dismissed the petition for certiorari. Though it found that Judge Barrios failed to make an independent assessment of the merits of the case and thus abdicated his judicial power and acted as a mere surrogate of the Secretary of Justice, it ruled that the remand of the case to the RTC would serve no useful purpose since it may result in the

reopening of the parricide case which would violate respondents constitutional right against double jeopardy. Petitioner heirs and the OSG moved to reconsider the CA decision, but their motions were denied on April 3, 2008. Hence, they filed the present consolidated petitions raising the sole issue of whether the remand of the parricide case to the trial court will violate respondents constitutional right against double jeopardy. Petitioner heirs argue that the MeTC did not validly acquire jurisdiction over the case for parricide through reckless imprudence and that jurisdiction remained with the RTC where the Information for parricide was filed. They also assail the filing with the MeTC of the Information for the downgraded offense after a supposedly dubious reinvestigation and question the hasty arraignment of accused which was done allegedly without notice to petitioner heirs and without them being furnished with the result of the reinvestigation. They even claim that they were not furnished with a copy of the motion for leave to conduct reinvestigation as it was sent to the wrong address. Petitioner heirs further argue that when respondent immediately pleaded guilty to the charge for reckless imprudence without notice to them, such a plea cannot be legally invoked in respondents defense of double jeopardy. Also, the Information for parricide was still

pending with the RTC when accused was hastily arraigned for the downgraded offense. Thus, not all requisites of double jeopardy are present. The OSG, for its part, argues that the MeTC could not have validly acquired jurisdiction over the case for the same offense of parricide or any offense necessarily included therein because the prosecutions motion to withdraw the Information for parricide before the RTC remained unacted upon by the said court. Respondent, on the other hand, maintains that if the petition is granted, it would violate his right against double jeopardy. The first jeopardy has already attached because there was a valid indictment, arraignment and plea and the proceedings were already terminated as he is already serving sentence and has applied for probation. He also contends that proceeding with reinvestigation was justified since the principal action can continue if there is no order from the appellate court to stop the proceedings. He further argues that petitioner heirs have no right to file this appeal especially since the appeal was filed by petitioner heirs without the public prosecutors conformity. Respondent likewise contends that it is already too late for petitioner heirs to question the validity of the MeTC proceedings since its decision has become final and executory, no appeal having been taken from the decision. Also, petitioner heirs failed to present evidence to prove that there was fraud in the reinvestigation and subsequent plea to a lesser offense. We grant the petitions.

It is beyond cavil that the RTC acted with grave abuse of discretion in granting the withdrawal of the Information for parricide and recalling the warrant of arrest without making an independent assessment of the merits of the case and the evidence on record.[48] By relying solely on the manifestation of the public prosecutor that it is abiding by the Resolution of the Secretary of Justice, the trial court abdicated its judicial power and refused to perform a positive duty enjoined by law. What remains for our resolution is whether the case may be remanded to the RTC without violating respondents right against double jeopardy. On this question, we find the answer to be in the affirmative. Section 7, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended provides:
SEC. 7. Former conviction or acquittal; double jeopardy. When an accused has been convicted or acquitted, or the case against him dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent by a court of competent jurisdiction, upon a valid complaint or information or other formal charge sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction and after the accused had pleaded to the charge, the conviction or acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case shall be a bar to another prosecution for the offense charged, or for any attempt to commit the same or frustration thereof, or for any offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the offense charged in the former complaint or information.

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Thus, double jeopardy exists when the following requisites are present: (1) a first jeopardy attached prior to the second; (2) the first jeopardy has been validly terminated; and (3) a second jeopardy is for the same offense as in the first. A first jeopardy attaches only (a) after a valid indictment; (b) before a competent court; (c) after arraignment; (d) when a valid plea has been entered; and (e) when the accused has been acquitted or convicted, or the case dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent.[49] In this case, the MeTC took cognizance of the Information for reckless imprudence resulting in parricide while the criminal case for parricide was still pending before the RTC. In Dioquino v. Cruz, Jr.,[50] we held that once jurisdiction is acquired by the court in which the Information is filed, it is there retained. Therefore, as the offense of reckless imprudence resulting in parricide was included in the charge for intentional parricide[51] pending before the RTC, the MeTC clearly had no jurisdiction over the criminal case filed before it, the RTC having retained jurisdiction over the offense to the exclusion of all other courts. The requisite that the judgment be rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction is therefore absent. A decision rendered without jurisdiction is not a decision in contemplation of law and can never become

executory.[52] WHEREFORE, the present petitions are GRANTED. The Decision dated October 1, 2007 and Resolution dated April 3, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 92755 are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Consequently, the September 26, 2005 and November 3, 2005 Orders of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 54 are hereby NULLIFIED and said trial court is hereby DIRECTED to REINSTATE Criminal Case No. 02-207976 for parricide for appropriate criminal proceedings. No costs. SO ORDERED.