ESCOBAL vs HON. GARCHITORENA G.R. No. 124644, February 5, 2004

Fact:
The petitioner a member of the Philippine National Police, was conducting surveillance operations on drug trafficking at a beer house. He somehow got involved in a shooting incident, resulting in the death of one Rodney Rafael N. Nueca. An amended Information was filed with the RTC charging the petitioner with murder. The trial court issued an Order declaring that the petitioner committed the crime charged while not in the performance of his official function. The trial court added that upon the enactment of R.A. No. 7975, the issue had become moot and academic. The amendatory law transferred the jurisdiction over the offense charged from the Sandiganbayan to the RTC since the petitioner did not have a salary grade of “27” as provided for in or by Section 4(a)(1), (3) thereof. The trial court nevertheless ordered the prosecution to amend the Information. The amendment consisted in the inclusion therein of an allegation that the offense charged was not committed by the petitioner in the performance of his duties/functions, nor in relation to his office. The petitioner filed a motion for the reconsideration of the said order, he asserted that R.A. No. 7975, which was enacted on March 30, 1995, could not be applied retroactively.

Issues:
1. Whether the RTC has exclusive jurisdiction over the case of the Petitioner.
2. Whether the application of R.A. No. 7975 have a retroactive effect.

Held:
1. Yes, The respondent Presiding Justice acted in accordance with law and the rulings of this Court when he ordered the remand of the case to the RTC, the court of origin.

The jurisdiction of the court over criminal cases is determined by the allegations in the Information or the Complaint and the statute in effect at the time of the commencement of the action, unless such statute provides for a retroactive application thereof. The jurisdictional requirements must be alleged in the Information. Such jurisdiction of the court acquired at the inception of the case continues until the case is terminated. For the Sandiganbayan to have exclusive jurisdiction under the said law over crimes committed by public officers in relation to their office, it is essential that the facts showing the intimate relation between the office of the offender and the discharge of official duties must be alleged in the Information. It is not enough to merely allege in the Information that the crime charged was committed by the offender in relation to his office because that would be a conclusion of law. The amended Information filed with the RTC against the petitioner does not contain any allegation showing the intimate relation between his office and the discharge of his duties. Hence, the RTC had jurisdiction over the offense charged when on November 24, 1995, it ordered the re-amendment of the Information to include therein an allegation that the petitioner committed the crime in relation to office. The trial court erred when it ordered the elevation of the records to the Sandiganbayan.

2. Yes, RA 7975 has a retroactive as a substantive procedural law which may be applied retroactively.

2 thoughts on “ESCOBAL vs HON. GARCHITORENA G.R. No. 124644, February 5, 2004

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