MORILLO vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 198270, December 9, 2015

Sometime in July 2003, respondent Richard Natividad, Milo Malong and Bing Nanquil, introducing themselves as contractors doing business in Pampanga City under the name and style of RB Custodio Construction, purchased construction materials for their project inside the Subic Freeport Zone from petitioner Armilyn Morillo, owner of Amasea General Merchandize and Construction Supplies. The parties agreed that twenty percent (20%) of the purchases shall be paid within seven (7) days after the first delivery and the remaining eighty percent (80%) to be paid within thirty-five (35) days after the last delivery, all of which shall be via postdated checks.

Upon maturity, petitioner attempted to deposit the checks in her savings account at Equitable PCI Bank, San Lorenzo, Makati City. They were, however, dishonored by the drawee bank. Immediately thereafter, petitioner communicated the dishonor to respondent and his partners and demanded for payment. Again, respondent issued two (2) post-dated Metrobank checks and assured petitioner that they will be honored upon maturity. Upon deposit in her savings account at Equitable PCI Bank, Makati Branch, the checks were once again dishonored for the reason that the account from which they were drawn was already a closed account. Consequently, petitioner made several demands from respondent and his partners, but to no avail, prompting her to file a complaint with the City Prosecution Office, Makati City. Thus, on August 12, 2004, two (2) Information were filed against respondent and Milo Malong.

On September 3, 2008, the MeTC rendered its Joint Decision, finding that the prosecution had proven all the elements of violation of BP 22 as against respondent.

Respondent appealed the decision of the MeTC to the RTC arguing that the MeTC of Makati City had no jurisdiction over the case. He asserted that since the subject checks were issued, drawn, and delivered to petitioner in Subic, the venue of the action was improperly laid for none of the elements of the offense actually transpired in Makati City.

On February 23, 2009, the RTC affirmed the MeTC ruling.

On appeal, however, the Court of Appeals, in its January 18, 2011 Decision, reversed the lower courts’ rulings and dismissed the case without prejudice to its refiling in the proper venue. The CA stated that all the essential elements of the offense happened in Pampanga. Consequently, the case can only be filed in said place. Unfortunately, private complainant filed the case in Makati City, under the erroneous assumption that since she deposited the subject checks in Equitable PCI Bank, Makati City, and was informed of lite dishonor of the checks by the same bank, the case may be filed in Makati City.

Aggrieved, petitioner filed the instant action invoking the following argument.

Whether the CA gravely erred when it ruled that the MeTC of Makati City did not have jurisdiction over the case despite a clear showing that the offense was committed within the jurisdiction of said court.

Yes, It is well settled that violations of BP 22 cases are categorized as transitory or continuing crimes, meaning that some acts material and essential thereto and requisite in their consummation occur in one municipality or territory, while some occur in another. In such cases, the court wherein any of the crime’s essential and material acts have been committed maintains jurisdiction to try the case; it being understood that the first court taking cognizance of the same excludes the other. Thus, a person charged with a continuing or transitory crime may be validly tried in any municipality or territory where the offense was in part committed.

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