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Morillo vs People (G.R. No. 198270, December 09, 2015)

Morillo vs People of the Philippines
G.R. No. 198270, December 09, 2015
 
Facts: 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. Pursuant to the agreement, petitioner delivered construction materials amounting to a total of P500,054.00 at the construction site where respondent and his partners were undertaking their project. After the last delivery, respondent paid P20,000.00 in cash and issued two (2) post-dated checks, drawn from Metrobank, Pampanga branch, in the amounts of P393,000.00 and P87,054.00. 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) Informations were filed against respondent and Milo Malong.
Issue: Whether or not MeTC of Makati City has jurisdiction over the case.
Held: Yes. It is well settled that violation of BP 22 cases is categorized as transitory or continuing crimes, which means that the acts material and essential thereto occur in one municipality or territory, while some occur in another. Accordingly, 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. Stated differently, 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. Applying these principles, a criminal case for violation of BP 22 may be filed in any of the places where any of its elements occurred – in particular, the place where the check is drawn, issued, delivered, or dishonored. 
Guided by the foregoing pronouncements, there is no denying, therefore, that the court of the place where the check was deposited or presented for encashment; can be vested with jurisdiction to try cases involving violations of BP 22. Thus, the fact that the check subject of the instant case was drawn, issued, and delivered in Pampanga does not strip off the Makati MeTC of its jurisdiction over the instant case for it is undisputed that the subject check was deposited and presented for encashment at the Makati Branch of Equitable PC IBank. The MeTC of Makati, therefore, correctly took cognizance of the instant case and rendered its decision in the proper exercise of its jurisdiction. 
First of all, the Court stresses that the appellate court’s dismissal of the case is not an acquittal of respondent. Basic is the rule that a dismissal of a case is different from an acquittal of the accused therein. Except in a dismissal based on a Demurrer to Evidence filed by the accused, or for violation of the right of the accused to a speedy trial, the dismissal of a criminal case against the accused will not result in his acquittal. In the oft-cited People v. Salico, the Court explained: This argument or reasoning is predicated on a confusion of the legal concepts of dismissal and acquittal. Acquittal is always based on the merits, that is, the defendant is acquitted because the evidence does not show that defendant’s guilt is beyond a reasonable doubt; but dismissal does not decide the case on the merits or that the defendant is not guilty. Dismissal terminates the proceeding, either because the court is not a court of competent jurisdiction, or the evidence does not show that the offense was committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, or the complaint or information is not valid or sufficient in form and substance, etc. The only case in which the word dismissal is commonly but not correctly used, instead of the proper term acquittal, is when, after the prosecution has presented all its: evidence, the defendant moves for the dismissal and the court dismisses the ease on the ground that the evidence fails to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty; for in such case the dismissal is in reality an acquittal because the case is decided on the merits. If the prosecution fails to prove that the offense was committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the court and the case is dismissed, the dismissal is not an acquittal, inasmuch as if it were so the defendant could not be again prosecuted before the court of competent jurisdiction; and it is elemental that in such case, the defendant may again be prosecuted for the same offense before a court of competent jurisdiction. 
Thus, when the appellate court herein dismissed the instant case on the ground that the MeTC lacked jurisdiction over the offense charged, it did not decide the same on the merits, let alone resolve the issue of respondent’s guilt or innocence based on the evidence proffered by the prosecution. The appellate court merely dismissed the case on the erroneous reasoning that none of the elements of BP 22 was committed within the lower court’s jurisdiction, and not because of any finding that the evidence failed to show respondent’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Clearly, therefore, such dismissal did not operate as an acquittal, which, as previously discussed, may be repudiated only by a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, showing a grave abuse of discretion. Thus, petitioner’s resort to Rule 45 of the Rules of Court cannot be struck down as improper. In a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45, the parties raise only questions of law because the Court, in its exercise of its power of review, is not a trier of facts. There is a question of law when the doubt or difference arises as to what the law is on certain state of facts and which does not call for an existence of the probative value of the evidence presented by the parties-litigants.
In the instant case; the lone issue invoked by petitioner is precisely “whether the Court of Appeals erred when it ruled that the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati City did not have jurisdiction over the case despite clear showing that the offense was committed within the jurisdiction of said court.” Evidently, therefore, the instant petition was filed within the bounds of our procedural rules for the issue herein rests solely on what the law provides on the given set of circumstances insofar as the commission of the crime of BP 22 is concerned. In criminal cases, the jurisdiction of the court is determined by the averments of the complaint or Information, in relation to the law prevailing at the time of the filing of the complaint or Information, and the penalty provided by law for the crime charged at the time of its commission. Thus, when a case involves a proper interpretation of the rules and jurisprudence with respect to the jurisdiction of courts to entertain complaints filed therewith, it deals with a question of law that can be properly brought to this Court under Rule 45.
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Metrobank vs Sandoval (G.R. No. 169677 February 18, 2013)

Metrobank vs Sandoval
G.R. No. 169677 February 18, 2013

Facts: On July 17, 1987, the Republic brought a complaint for reversion, reconveyance, restitution, accounting and damages in the Sandiganbayan against Andres V. Genito, Jr., Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos and other defendants. The action was obviously to recover allegedly ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, their nominees, dummies and agents. Among the properties subject of the action were two parcels of commercial land located in Tandang Sora (Old Balara), Quezon City, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 266423 and TCT No. 266588 of the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City registered in the names of Spouses Andres V. Genito, Jr. and Ludivina L. Genito. On February 5, 2001, the Republic moved for the amendment of the complaint in order to implead Asian Bank as an additional defendant. The Sandiganbayan granted the motion. It appears that Asian Bank claimed ownership of the two parcels of land as the registered owner by virtue of TCT No. N-201383 and TCT No. N-201384 issued in its name by the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City. Asian Bank was also in possession of the properties by virtue of the writ of possession issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Quezon City. When the Republic was about to terminate its presentation of evidence against the original defendants in Civil Case No. 0004, it moved to hold a separate trial against Asian Bank.

Issue: Whether or not a motion for separate trial is proper.

Held: No. The rule on separate trials in civil actions is found in Section 2, Rule 31 of the Rules of Court, which reads:

Section 2. Separate trials. – The court, in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice, may order a separate trial of any claim, crossclaim, counterclaim, or third-party complaint, or of any separate issue or of any number of claims, cross-claims, counterclaims, third-party complaints or issues.

The text of the rule grants to the trial court the discretion to determine if a separate trial of any claim, cross-claim, counterclaim, or third-party complaint, or of any separate issue or of any number of claims, cross-claims, counterclaims, third-party complaints or issues should be held, provided that the exercise of such discretion is in furtherance of convenience or to avoid prejudice to any party.

Further, Corpus Juris Secundum makes clear that neither party had an absolute right to have a separate trial of an issue; hence, the motion to that effect should be allowed only to avoid prejudice, further convenience, promote justice, and give a fair trial to all parties.

Exceptions to the general rule are permitted only when there are extraordinary grounds for conducting separate trials on different issues raised in the same case, or when separate trials of the issues will avoid prejudice, or when separate trials of the issues will further convenience, or when separate trials of the issues will promote justice, or when separate trials of the issues will give a fair trial to all parties. Otherwise, the general rule must apply.

People vs Mendoza (GR No. 186387 August 31, 2011)

People of the Philippines vs Mendoza
GR No. 186387 August 31, 2011

Facts: An information was received that a certain Juan Mendoza is selling illegal drugs, shabu specifically in the City of Baguio. A buy-bust operation to entrap the accused was set, Police officer Antolin was the buyer to meet the accused at the stairs of the Cresencia Barangay hall along Bokaw Kan Road at around 2:00 pm when the signal was given by Antolin upon the end of the transaction, the accused was searched and was take under custody where other sachets of shabu were seized from him. The said items were then tested positive of menthamphetamine hydrochloride. The same pieces of evidence were transmitted to the crime laboratory and was later on presented to the court.

Issue: Whether or not the items seized were admissible as evidence to convict the accused for violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Held: Yes. In crimes involving sale of illegal drugs, two essential elements must be satisfied:

  1. Identities of the Buyer, the Seller, the object and the consideration; and
  2. The delivery of the thing sold and the payment for it.

In the prosecution for illegal possession of dangerous drugs, on the other hand, it must be shown that:

  1. The accused is in possession of an item or an object identified to be prohibited or a regulated drug;
  2. Such possession is not authorized by law;
  3. The accused freely and consciously possessed the said drug.

In this case, all these elements were satisfactorily proven by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt through testimonial, documentary and object evidence presented during the trialm PO2 Antolin, the designated poseur-buyer, testified as the circumstances surrounding the apprehension of the accused, and the seizure and marking of the illegal drugs recovered from the accused. Then, SPO4 Sison corroborated PO2 Antolin’s testimony and confirmed that all the confiscated items recovered from the accused were turned over to him as team leader.

The compliance with the chain of custody rule was sufficiently established.

In the chain of custody in a buy-bust situation, the following links must be established: first, the seizure and marking, if practicable, of the illegal drug received from the accused by the apprehending officer; second, the turnover of the illegal drug seized by the apprehending officer to the investigating officer; third, the turnover by the investigating officer of the illegal drug to the forensic chemist for laboratory examination; and fourth, the turnover and submission of the marked illegal drug seized from the forensic chemist to the court.