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Buaya vs. Polo Case Digest


The crime of estafa is a continuing or transitory offense which may be prosecuted at the place where any of the essential elements of the crime took place. One of the essential elements of estafa is damage or prejudice to the offended party. Thus, estafa may be filed in the place where the offended party  has its principal place of business and office.


Facts: 

Buaya was an insurance agent of Country Bankers Insurance Corporation (CBIC) and was authorized to collect premiums for and in behalf of CBIC then make a report and accounting of the transactions and remit the same to the principal office of CBIC in Manila. However, an audit of Buaya‟s account showed that there was a shortage in the amount of P358,850. As a result, she was charged with estafa before the RTC of Manila. Buaya filed a Motion to Dismiss, claiming that the RTC of Manila has no jurisdiction because she is based in Cebu City and necessarily the funds she allegedly misappropriated were collected in Cebu City. She also contends that the subject matter of this case is purely civil in nature. Judge Polo, however denied the motion to dismiss.


Issue:

Does the RTC of Manila have jurisdiction to try the criminal case against Buaya?


Held:

Yes. The jurisdiction of courts in criminal cases is determined by the allegations of the complaint or information, and not by the findings the court may make after the trial. Section 14(a), Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court provides: "In all criminal — prosecutions the action shall be instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or province wherein the offense was committed or any of the essential elements thereof took place."

The subject information charges petitioner with estafa committed "during the period 1980 to June 15, 1982 inclusive in the City of Manila, Philippines . . . ." Clearly then, from the very allegation of the information the Regional Trial Court of Manila has jurisdiction.

Besides, the crime of estafa is a continuing or transitory offense which may be prosecuted at the place where any of the essential elements of the crime took place. One of the essential elements of estafa is damage or prejudice to the offended party. The private respondent has its principal place of business and office at Manila. The failure of the petitioner to remit the insurance premiums she collected allegedly caused damage and prejudice to private respondent in Manila.

Anent petitioners other contention that the subject matter is purely civil in nature, suffice it to state that evidentiary facts on this point have still to be proved. (Buaya vs. Polo, G.R. No. L-75079 January 26, 1989)

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