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UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

   
December-1997 Jurisprudence                 

  • G.R. Nos. 124360 & 127867 December 3, 1997 - FRANCISCO S. TATAD v. SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. 95-9-98-MCTC December 4, 1997 - REQUEST OF JUDGE EDUARDO F. CARTAGENA

  • G.R. No. 116354 December 4, 1997 - HEIRS OF REYNALDO ANIBAN v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 117624 December 4, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. EFREN L. HERNANDEZ, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121508 December 4, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. JOEL CABEL

  • G.R. No. 121628 December 4, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. REX TURINGAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 126560 December 4, 1997 - ALFONSO PAA v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. 97-1-08-MTC December 5, 1997 - REPORT ON THE JUDICIAL AUDIT CONDUCTED IN MTC, SIBULAN, NEGROS ORIENTAL

  • G.R. No. 108505 December 5, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ARIEL OLIVA

  • G.R. No. 117196 December 5, 1997 - LADISLAO P. VERGARA v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 119078-79 December 5, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DELVIN ARELLANO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 120318 December 5, 1997 - RICARDO CANICOSA v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121878 December 5, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. HECTOR ESTARES

  • G.R. No. 124456 December 5, 1997 - PAL, INC. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 108722 December 9, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ERLINDA CARREON

  • G.R. No. 124554 December 9, 1997 - ETERNAL GARDENS MEMORIAL PARK CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter SB-95-6-P December 10, 1997 - PEPITO GUILLEN v. LUIS CONSTANTINO

  • G.R. No. 108731 December 10, 1997 - DEL MAR DOMESTIC ENTERPRISES, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 121241 December 10, 1997 - FURUSAWA RUBBER PHIL., INC. v. SECRETARY OF LABOR, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 109169 December 12, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ROLANDO ABRERA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 110715 December 12, 1997 - ELBERT TAN v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 111953 December 12, 1997 - RENATO C. CORONA, ET AL. v. UNITED HARBOR PILOTS ASSN. OF THE PHILS., ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 112287 & 112350 December 12, 1997 - NATIONAL STEEL CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 114905 December 12, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. DONNIE PERALTA

  • G.R. Nos. 117483-84 December 12, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. NORLITO CARA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122487 December 12, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. REYNALDO BERROYA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122653 December 12, 1997 - PURE FOODS CORP. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 122743 & 127215 December 12, 1997 - TELEFUNKEN SEMICONDUCTORS EMPLOYEES UNION v. SECRETARY OF LABOR, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123595 December 12, 1997 - SAMMY MALACAT v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 126623 December 12, 1997 - ERNESTO MORALES v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 129938 December 12, 1997 - ALFREDO B. ENOJAS, JR. v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 109714 December 15, 1997 - BETTER BUILDINGS, INC., ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 110163 December 15, 1997 - EDUARDO A. ZANORIA v. COURT OF APPEALS

  • G.R. No. 111244 December 15, 1997 - ARTURO ALANO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 113466 December 15, 1997 - NATIONAL FEDERATION OF LABOR, ET AL. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 116487 December 15, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MICHAEL CABAL, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118086 December 15, 1997 - SUSAN G. CARUNGCONG v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 118463 December 15, 1997 - PAL, INC. v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 122655 December 15, 1997 - REYNALDO B. ALFANTE v. NLRC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 123648 December 15, 1997 - ABDULLAH A. JAMIL v. COMELEC, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 130148 December 15, 1997 - JOSE BORDADOR, ET AL. v. BRIGIDA D. LUZ, ET AL.

  • Adm. Matter No. P-94-1088 December 17, 1997 - OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR v. ADMER L. FERRER

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-97-1394 December 17, 1997 - ROMEO STA. ANA v. GRACIANO H. ARINDAY, JR.

  • G.R. No. 121736 December 17, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. SAPAL MIDTOMOD

  • Adm. Case No. 4349 December 22, 1997 - LOURDES R. BUSINOS v. FRANCISCO RICAFORT

  • Adm. Matter No. RTJ-97-1395 December 22, 1997 - PEDRO A. SAN JUAN v. LORE V. BAGALASCA

  • G.R. No. 110097 December 22, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. ARNULFO ASTORGA

  • G.R. No. 117873 December 22, 1997 - PEOPLE OF THE PHIL. v. MERCY SANTOS

  • G.R. No. 118917 December 22, 1997 - PHILIPPINE DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORP. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. Nos. 120435 & 120974 December 22, 1997 - ESTATE OF THE LATE MERCEDES JACOB, ET AL. v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 124724 December 22, 1997 - RENE UY GOLANGCO v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 125752 December 22, 1997 - IRENEO A. MANAHAN v. ARTURO M. BERNARDO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 128369 December 22, 1997 - RODOLFO CAOILI v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 129783 December 22, 1997 - MARCELINO C. LIBANAN v. HRET, ET AL.

  •  





     
     

    G.R. No. 126623   December 12, 1997 - ERNESTO MORALES v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

     
    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    EN BANC

    [G.R. No. 126623. December 12, 1997.]

    ERNESTO MORALES y DELA CRUZ, Petitioner, v. COURT OF APPEALS, HON., ALFREDO J. GUSTILO, as Presiding Judge of RTC, Pasay City, Branch 116 and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.


    D E C I S I O N


    DAVIDE, JR., J.:


    The key issue in this case is whether, in light of R.A. No. 7659 1 as interpreted in People v. Simon, 2 and R.A. No. 7691, 3 Regional Trial Courts have jurisdiction over violations of R.A. No. 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended, when the imposable penalty is not more than six (6) years.chanrobles law library

    The petitioner was charged with the violation of Section 15 in relation to Section 20 of R.A. No. 6425, as amended by RA. No. 7659, in an information filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay City on 13 March 1996. The accusatory portion of the said information reads as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    That on or about the 11th day of March 1996, in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused, Ernesto Morales y De la Cruz, without authority of law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell and deliver to another 0.4587 grams of Metamphetamine Hydrochloride (shabu), a regulated drug.

    CONTRARY TO LAW. 4

    The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 96-8443 and raffled to Branch 116 of the said court.

    Upon his arraignment, the petitioner entered a plea of not guilty. 5 Subsequently, on 30 April 1996, the petitioner filed a Motion to Dismiss 6 on the ground that the RTC had no jurisdiction to try the case considering that pursuant to Section 20 of R.A. No.7659 as construed in People v. Simon, 7 the penalty imposable for the offense charged should not exceed prision correccional or six (6) years and under R.A. No. 7691 it is the Metropolitan Trial Court which has jurisdiction over the case.

    In its Order 8 of 9 May 1996, the RTC denied the motion. It held:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    It is true that under the aforementioned provision, cases punishable with penalties of not more than six (6) years are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Courts. However, the exceptions are "cases falling within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court. . ." Under Section 39 of Republic Act No. 6425, the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, the Court of First Instance now the Regional Trial Court and the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, which no longer exist, "shall have concurrent original jurisdiction over all cases involving offenses punishable under this Act." It is therefore clear that this case, which is a violation of Republic Act No. 6425, although punishable by a penalty of less than six (6) years, falls within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court.

    His motion for the reconsideration 9 of the order having been denied, 10 the petitioner filed with respondent Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. 11 The case was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 40670.

    In its Comment 12 in CA-G.R. SP No. 40670, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) agreed with the petitioner that the RTC had no jurisdiction to try the criminal case. It, however, asserted that the Court of Appeals had no jurisdiction over the special civil action for certiorari; as the same involved only the question of jurisdiction of an inferior court, hence, cognizable by the Supreme Court alone pursuant to Section 9 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 129, in connection with Section 5(2) (c), Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution and Section 17 of Republic Act No. 5440. The USG then recommended that the case be elevated to the Supreme Court for disposition, or that the Court of Appeals grant the petition and set aside the challenged order of the RTC should it rule that it had jurisdiction over petition.

    In its Resolution 13 of 8 August 1996, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for certiorari for lack of jurisdiction over the action. Explaining its ruling, it declared:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    In his Comment to the petition, the Solicitor General, inter alia contended that this Court has no jurisdiction over the petition for it properly falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

    We fully agree.

    Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

    "Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers; . . .

    (2) Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari as the law or the Rules of Court may provide, final judgments and orders of lower courts in: . . .

    (c) All cases in which the jurisdiction of any lower court is in issue. . ."cralaw virtua1aw library

    Section 17 of RA. 5446 otherwise known as the Judiciary Act of 1948 says that the Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction to review, revise, reverse, modify or affirm on certiorari final judgments and decrees of inferior courts in all cases in which the jurisdiction of any inferior court is on issue. It is hereby stressed that the issue in the petition at bench is purely a question of jurisdiction which is resolvable on the basis of the records.

    After the denial 14 on 13 September 1996 of his motion reconsideration, 15 the petitioner came to this Court via this petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court raising the following issues:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    I. WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS HAS JURISDICTION TO ENTERTAIN A PETITION FOR CERTIORARI UNDER RULE 65 OF THE RULES OF COURT WHERE THE ISSUE IS THE JURISDICTION OF RESPONDENT RTC JUDGE TO TRY THE ALLEGED VIOLATION OF R.A. 6425; AND

    II. WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT RTC JUDGE/COURT HAS JURISDICTION TO TRY ALLEGED VIOLATION OF SECTION 15, IN RELATION TO SECTION 20, ART. III OF R.A. 6425, AS AMENDED, INVOLVING ONLY 0.4587 GRAMS OF SHABU.

    As to the first, the petitioner insists that respondent Court of Appeals has concurrent original jurisdiction With this Court over petitions for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court involving decisions or orders of Regional Trial Courts pursuant to Section 9(1) 16 of B.P. Blg. 129 in relation to Section 5(1) 17 of Article VIII of the Constitution. He cites De Jesus v. Court of Appeals 18 wherein this Court held that the original jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals under Section 9 of B.P. Blg. 129 is concurrent with that of the Supreme Court, and with that of Regional Trial Courts for writs enforceable within their respective regions. The petitioner further maintains that Section 5(2)(c) of Article VIII of the Constitution and Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended by R.A. No. 5440, relied upon by the Court Appeals are not applicable inasmuch as they relate to the appellate jurisdiction of this Court and not to an original action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

    As regards the second issue, the petitioner asserts that the RTC below has no jurisdiction over the offense charged considering that only 0.4587 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) is involved. In light of Section 20 of R.A. No. 7659, 19 as interpreted in People v. Simon 20 and further explained in People v. Santos 21 and Ordoñez v. Vinarao, 22 the imposable penalty therefor would not exceed prision correccional; whose maximum period is six (6) years. Hence, under RA. No. 7691 exclusive original jurisdiction therein is vested in Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts.

    In its Comment on the petition, the OSG submits that all violations of R.A. No. 6425, as further amended by R.A. No.7659, which are punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six years now fall under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts. Since on the basis of the quantity of the regulated drug involved in this case the penalty imposable does not exceed prision correccional; it is the Metropolitan Trial Court of Pasay City which has jurisdiction over the case. It disagreed with the opinion of the RTC that violations of R.A. No 6425 as amended, still fall within the jurisdiction of the RTC because the latter’s jurisdiction thereon mandated by Section 39 of R.A. No 6425 has been preserved by the exception provided for in the opening sentence of Section 32 of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended by Section 2 of RA. No. 7691. It submits that Section 39 of RA. No. 6425 was repealed by Section 6 of R.A. No. 7691, which provides:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    SEC. 6. All laws, decrees, and orders inconsistent with the provisions of this Act shall be considered amended or modified accordingly.

    In support of its submission, it cites this Court’s resolution in Gulhoran v. Escaño, Jr. 23

    The OSG further contends that respondent Court of Appeals was correct in dismissing the petition for certiorari for lack of jurisdiction in view of Section 9(3) of B.P. Blg. 129; Sec. 5(2)(c) of Article VIII of the Constitution; and Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended by R.A. No. 5440. Nevertheless, it prays that this petition be given due course and that Criminal Case No. 96-8443 be remanded to the proper metropolitan trial court for further proceedings." chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

    We resolved to give due course to this petition.

    The Court of Appeals erred in holding that it had no jurisdiction over petitioner’s special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

    Under Section 9(1) of B.P. Blg. 129, the Court of Appeals has concurrent original jurisdiction with the Supreme Court pursuant to Section 5(1) of Article VIII of the Constitution and Section 17(1) of the Judiciary Act of 1948, and with the Regional Trial Court pursuant to Section 21(1) of B.P. Blg. 129 to issue writs of certiorari; mandamus, prohibition, habeas corpus, and quo warranto 24 These are original actions, not modes of appeals.

    Since what the petitioner filed in CA-G.R. SP No. 40670 was a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65, the original jurisdiction of Court of Appeals thereon is beyond doubt.

    This error of the Court of Appeals was due to its misapplication of Section 5(2) (c) of Article VIII of the Constitution and of that portion of Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 vesting upon the Supreme Court exclusive jurisdiction to review, revise, reverse, modify or affirm on certiorari as the law or rules of court may provide, final judgments and decrees of inferior courts in all cases in which the jurisdiction of any inferior court is in issue. It forgot that this constitutional and statutory provisions pertain to the appellate — not original — jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, as correctly maintained by the petitioner. An appellate jurisdiction refers to a process which is but a continuation of the original suit, not a commencement of a new action, such as that of a special civil action for certiorari. The general rule is that a denial of a motion to dismiss or to quash in criminal cases is interlocutory and cannot be the subject of an appeal or of a special civil action for certiorari. Nevertheless, this Court has allowed a special civil action for certiorari where a lower court has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in denying a motion to dismiss or to quash. 25 The petitioner believed that the RTC below did so; hence, the special civil action for certiorari before the Court of Appeals appeared to be the proper remedy.

    The next most logical step then is for us to simply set aside the challenged resolutions and to direct the Court of Appeals to resolve on the merits the petition in CA-G.R. SP No. 40670. But, that would further delay the case. Considering the special importance of the lone legal issue raised, which can be resolved on the basis of the pleadings heretofore filed, and the fact that this Court has concurrent jurisdiction over petitioner’s special action in CA-G.R. SP No. 40670, we deem it more practical and in the greater interest of justice not to remand the case to the Court of Appeals but, instead, to take direct cognizance thereof and resolve it once and for all. 26

    We now address the second issue.

    Applying by analogy the ruling in People v. Simon, 27 People v. De Lara, 28 People v. Santos, 29 and Ordoñez v. Vinarao, 30 the imposable penalty in this case which involves 0.4587 grams of shabu should not exceed prision correccional. We say by analogy because these cases involved marijuana, not methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu). In Section 20 of RA. No. 6425, as amended by Section 17 of R.A. No. 7659, the maximum quantities of marijuana and methamphetamine hydrochloride for purposes of imposing the maximum penalties are not the same. For the latter, if the quantity involved is 200 grams or more, the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million shall be imposed. Accordingly, if the quantity involved is below 200 grams, the imposable penalties should be as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    a) reclusion temporal — if the quantity involved is from 134 to 199 grams;

    b) prision mayor — if the quantity involved is from 66 to

    133 grams;

    c) prision correccional — if the quantity involved is 65 grams or below.

    Clearly, the penalty which may be imposed for the offense charged in Criminal Case No. 96-8443 would at most be only prision correccional duration is from six (6) months and one (1) day to six (6) years. Does it follow then that, as the petitioner insists, the RTC has no jurisdiction thereon in view of the amendment of Section 32 of B.P. Blg. 129 by R.A. No. 7691, which vested upon Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts 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? This section 32 as thus amended now reads:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    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 Court and of the Sandiganbayan, the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    x       x       x


    (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 offender 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.

    The exception in the opening sentence is of special significance which we cannot disregard. By virtue thereof, the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in criminal cases does not cover those cases which by provision of law fall within the exclusive original jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts and of the Sandiganbayan regardless of the prescribed penalty. Otherwise put, even if such cases are punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six years (i.e., prision correccional, arresto mayor or arresto menor), jurisdiction thereon is retained by the Regional Trial Courts or the Sandiganbayan, as the case may be.

    The aforementioned exception refers not only to Section 20 of B.P. Blg. 129 providing for the jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts in criminal cases, 31 but also to other laws which specifically lodge in Regional Trial Courts exclusive jurisdiction over specific criminal cases, e. g., (a) Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. Nos. 1289 and 4363 on written defamation or libel; (b) Decree on Intellectual Property (P. D. No. 49, as amended), which vests upon Courts of First Instance exclusive jurisdiction over the cases therein mentioned regardless of the imposable penalty; and (c) more appropriately for the case at bar, Section 39 of R.A. No. 6425, as amended by P.D. No. 44, which vests on Courts of First Instance, Circuit Criminal Courts, and the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts concurrent exclusive original jurisdiction over all cases involving violations of said Act.

    Jurisdiction is, of course, conferred by the Constitution or by Congress. Outside the cases enumerated in Section 5(2) of Article VIII of the Constitution, Congress has the plenary power to define, prescribe and apportion the jurisdiction of various courts. 32 Accordingly, Congress may, by law, provide that a certain class of cases should be exclusively heard and determined by one court. Such would be a special law and must be construed as an exception to the general law on jurisdiction of courts, namely, the Judiciary Act of 1948 as amended, or the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980. In short, the special law prevails over the general law.

    R.A. No. 7691 can by no means be considered another special law on jurisdiction but merely an amendatory law intended to amend specific sections of the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1 980. Hence, it does not have the effect of repealing or modifying Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code; Section 57 of the Decree on Intellectual Property; and Section 39 of R.A. No. 6425, as amended by P.D. No. 44. In a manner of speaking, R.A. No. 7691 was absorbed by the mother law, the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980.

    That Congress indeed did not intend to repeal these special laws vesting exclusive jurisdiction in the Regional Trial Courts over certain cases is clearly evident from the exception provided for in the opening sentence of Section 32 of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended by R.A. No. 7691. These special laws are not, therefore, covered by the repealing clause (Section 6) of R.A. No. 7691.

    Neither can it be successfully argued that Section 39 of RA. No. 6425, as amended by P.D. No. 44, is no longer operative because Section 44 of B.P. Blg. 129 abolished the Courts of First Instance, Circuit Criminal Courts, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts. While, indeed, Section 44 provides that these courts were to be "deemed automatically abolished" upon the declaration by the President that the reorganization provided in B.P. Blg. 129 had been completed, this Court should not lose sight of the fact that the Regional Trial Courts merely replaced the Courts of First Instance as clearly borne out by the last two sentences of Section 44, to wit:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    Upon such declaration, the said courts shall be deemed automatically abolished and the incumbents thereof shall cease to hold office. The cases pending in the old Courts shall be transferred to the appropriate Courts constituted pursuant to this Act, together with the pertinent functions, records, equipment, property and necessary personnel.

    In short, there was a change in name only — from Courts of First Instance to Regional Trial Courts. The Interim Rules and Guidelines Relative to the Implementation of B.P. Blg. 129 promulgated by this Court on 11 January 1983 also provides that the reference to the courts of first instance in the Rules of Court shall be deemed changed to the regional trial courts.chanrobles.com:cralaw:red

    Consequently, it is not accurate to state that the "abolition" of the Courts of First Instance carried with it the abolition of their exclusive original jurisdiction in drug cases vested by Section 39 of RA. No. 6425, as amended by P. D. No. 44. If that were so, then so must it be with respect to Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code and Section 57 of the Decree on Intellectual Property. On the contrary, in the resolution of 19 June 1996 in Caro v. Court of Appeals 33 and in the resolution of 26 February 1997 in Villalon v. Baldado, 34 this Court expressly ruled that Regional Trial Courts have the exclusive original jurisdiction over libel cases pursuant to Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code. In Administrative Order No. 104-96 this Court mandates that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    LIBEL CASES SHALL BE TRIED BY THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS HAVING JURISDICTION OVER THEM TO THE EXCLUSION OF THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS IN CITIES, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS AND MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURT.

    It likewise provides that jurisdiction over cases involving violations of intellectual property rights are "confined exclusively to the Regional Trial Courts."cralaw virtua1aw library

    The same Administrative Order recognizes that violations of R.A. No. 6425, as amended, regardless of the quantity involved, are to be tried and decided by the Regional Trial Courts therein designated as special courts. As to the latter, this Court in its Resolution of 15 April 1997 in A.M. No. 96-11-421-RTC, 35 resolved as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    . . . to AMEND Administrative Order No. 104-96, dated October 21, 1996, with respect only to the violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended, if the imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua to death. Thus, if the imposable penalty is below reclusion perpetua the drug related cases will be raffled among the regular courts as ordinary criminal cases.

    Thereafter, in Circular No. 31-97 dated 15 May 1997, the Court Administrator directed Judges of "special courts for Kidnapping, Robbery, Carnapping, Dangerous Drugs and other Heinous Crimes" to comply with the aforesaid amendment to Administrative Order No. 104-96. To avoid any further confusion or misunderstanding, we hereby declare that the term "regular courts" found in the above amendment refers exclusively to the Regional Trial Courts and was not intended to include Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts.chanroblesvirtual|awlibrary

    In view of the foregoing, the Court hereby abandons the resolution in Gulhroran v. Escaño 36 where, through the Second Division, we ruled, in effect, that Section 39 of R.A. No. 6425, as amended, was repealed by virtue of the repealing clause of RA. No. 7691.

    The RTC then did not commit any error in denying petitioner’s motion to dismiss Civil Case No. 96-8443.

    WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED, but only insofar as the issue of jurisdiction of respondent Court of Appeals in CA-SP No. 40670 is concerned. The Resolutions of 8 August and 13 September 1996 of the Court of Appeals are SET ASIDE, while the challenged orders in Criminal Case No. 96-8443 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 116, are AFFIRMED. The trial court is hereby DIRECTED to proceed with the trial of Criminal Case No. 96-8443 with all reasonable dispatch.

    No pronouncements as to costs.

    SO ORDERED.

    Narvasa, C.J., Regalado, Romero, Bellosillo and Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Francisco, Panganiban, Martinez, JJ., concur.

    Endnotes:



    1. An Act to Impose the Death Penalty on Heinous Crimes Amending for that Purpose the Revised Penal Code, as Amended, Other Special Laws, and for Other Purposes.

    2. 234 SCRA 555 [1994].

    3. An Act Expanding the Jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts; Amending for the Purpose B.P. Blg. 129, Otherwise Known as the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980.

    4. Rollo, 5, 28, 35, 106-107.

    5. Id., 29.

    6. Id., 35-39.

    7. Supra note 2.

    8. Per Judge Alfredo J. Gustilo; Rollo, 40-41.

    9. Id., 42-47.

    10. Id., 48.

    11. Rollo, 49-63.

    12. Id., 65-74.

    13. Id., 28-30. Per Aquino, H., J , with Rasul, J., and Hofileña, H., JJ., concurring.

    14. Rollo, 33.

    15. Id., 76-82.

    16. It provides:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    SEC. 9. Jurisdiction. — The Court of Appeals shall exercise:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    (1) original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, and quo warranto, and auxiliary writs or processes, whether or not in aid of its appellate jurisdiction.

    17. It reads:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    SEC. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    (1) Exercise original jurisdiction over cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and over petitions for certiorari; prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto and habeas corpus

    18. 212 SCRA 823 [1992].

    19. This law took effect on 31 December 1993 and not on 1 January 1994 as petitioner claims. See People v. Simon, supra note 2 at page 569.

    20. Supra note 2.

    21. 236 SCRA 689 [1994].

    22. 239 SCRA 114 [1994].

    23. G.R. No. 119135, 18 October 1995.

    24. Certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, are governed by Rule 65; quo warranto by Rule 66; and habeas corpus, by Rule 102, of the Rules of Court. See People v. Cuaresma, 172 SCRA 415 [1989]; Santiago v. Vasquez, 217 SCRA 633 [1993]; Manalo v. Gloria, 236 SCRA 130 [1994].

    25. See Newsweek, Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 142 SCRA 171 [1986].

    26. See Bayog v. Natino, 258 SCRA 378 [1996].

    27. Supra note 2.

    28. 236 SCRA 291 [1994].

    29. Supra note 21.

    30. Supra note 22.

    31. This Section provides:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    SEC. 20. Jurisdiction in Criminal Cases. — exclusive original jurisdiction in all criminal cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal or body, except those now falling under the exclusive and concurrent jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan which shall hereafter be exclusively taken cognizance of by the latter.

    32. Section 2, Article VIII, Constitution.

    33. G.R. No. 122126, Third Division.

    34. G.R. No. 125777, Third Division.

    35. Re: Request of Judge Jose Catral Mendoza, Regional Trial Court, Branch 219, Quezon City.

    36. Supra note 23.

    G.R. No. 126623   December 12, 1997 - ERNESTO MORALES v. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.


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