Topic: Proper Venue
Case Digest: Union Bank of the Philippines and Tomas v. People (G.R. No. 192565, February 28, 2012)
Tomas was charged in court for perjury under Article 183 of the RPC for making a false narration in a Certificate against Forum Shopping. Two complaints were filed against petitioners. The first complaint was filed before the RTC, Branch 109, Pasay City on April 3, 1998. The second complaint was filed on March 15, 2000 and raffled to the MeTC, Branch 47, Pasay City. The Certification was notarized in Makati City but was submitted and used in Pasay City. The Information against Union Bank and Tomas was filed in Makati City.
Tomas then filed a Motion to Quash citing that the venue was improperly laid and that the facts do not constitute an offense. Since it is the Pasay City court where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was submitted and used, it should have jurisdiction over the case and not the MeTC–Makati City.
The MeTC-Makati City denied the motion. The case was then elevated to RTC-Makati City with petitioners praying for the MeTC-Makati City ruling be annulled and set aside on the ground of grave abuse of discretion. They also cited cases United States v. Canet and Ilusorio v. Bildner which ruled that venue and jurisdiction should be in the place where the false document was presented.
RTC-Makati City found the petition to have no merit as a recent jurisprudence. The RTC-Makati City cited the case of Sy Tiong Shiou v. Sy as a more recent case that reaffirms the long-standing view on the venue with respect to perjury cases. In this case, the high court ruled that the criminal action shall be instituted and tried in the court of the municipality where the perjury was committed, or where any of its essential ingredients occurred.
Whether the proper venue of the case should be – Makati City, where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was notarized, or Pasay City, where the Certification was presented to the trial court.
The court held that MeTC-Makati City is the proper venue and the proper court to take cognizance of the perjury case against the petitioners.
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:
(a) 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.
The above provision should be read in light of Section 10, Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which states:
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.
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.