Union Bank of the Philippines, Vs. People of the Philippines – G.R. No. 192565, February 28, 2012

Facts:
That on or about the 13th day of March 2000 in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make untruthful statements under oath upon a material matter before a competent person authorized to administer oath which the law requires to wit: said accused stated in the Verification/Certification/Affidavit of merit of a complaint for sum of money with prayer for a writ of replevin docketed as [Civil] Case No. 342-00 of the Metropolitan Trial Court[,] Pasay City, that the Union Bank of the Philippines has not commenced any other action or proceeding involving the same issues in another tribunal or agency, accused knowing well that said material statement was false thereby making a willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood.

The accusation stemmed from petitioner Union Bank’s two (2) complaints for sum of money with prayer for a writ of replevin against the spouses Eddie and Eliza Tamondong and a John Doe. The first complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 98-0717, was filed before the RTC, Branch 109, Pasay City on April 13, 1998. The second complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 342-000, was filed on March 15, 2000 and raffled to the MeTC, Branch 47, Pasay City. Both complaints showed that Tomas executed and signed the Certification against Forum Shopping. Accordingly, she was charged of deliberately violating Article 183 of the RPC by falsely declaring under oath in the Certificate against Forum Shopping in the second complaint that she did not commence any other action or proceeding involving the same issue in another tribunal or agency.

Tomas filed a Motion to Quash, citing two grounds. First, she argued that the venue was improperly laid since it is the Pasay City court (where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was submitted and used) and not the MeTC-Makati City (where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was subscribed) that has jurisdiction over the perjury case.

The MeTC-Makati City denied the Motion to Quash, ruling that it has jurisdiction over the case since the Certificate against Forum Shopping was notarized in Makati City. The MeTC-Makati City subsequently denied Tomas’ motion for reconsideration.

The petitioners filed a petition for certiorari before the RTC-Makati City to annul and set aside the MeTC-Makati City orders on the ground of grave abuse of discretion. The RTC dismissing the petition for certiorari.

The petitioners went to SC praying to reverse the RTC-Makati City decision and quash the Information for perjury against Tomas.

Issue:
whether the RTC erred in affirming the decision of the MeTC of Makati City affirming that the said court has jurisdiction over the said case.

Held:
No. Venue is an essential element of jurisdiction in criminal cases. It determines not only the place where the criminal action is to be instituted, but also the court that has the jurisdiction to try and hear the case. The reason for this rule is two-fold. First, the jurisdiction of trial courts is limited to well-defined territories such that a trial court can only hear and try cases involving crimes committed within its territorial jurisdiction.12 Second, laying the venue in the locus criminis is grounded on the necessity and justice of having an accused on trial in the municipality of province where witnesses and other facilities for his defense are available.

In determining the venue where the criminal action is to be instituted and the court which has jurisdiction over it, Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that subject to existing laws, the criminal action shall be instituted and tried in the court or municipality or territory where the offense was committed or where any of its essential ingredients occurred.

Place of commission of the offense. – The complaint or information is sufficient if it can be understood from its allegations that the offense was committed or some of its essential ingredients occurred at some place within the jurisdiction of the court, unless the particular place where it was committed constitutes an essential element of the offense charged or is necessary for its identification.

Both provisions categorically place the venue and jurisdiction over criminal cases not only in the court where the offense was committed, but also where any of its essential ingredients took place. In other words, the venue of action and of jurisdiction are deemed sufficiently alleged where the Information states that the offense was committed or some of its essential ingredients occurred at a place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.

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