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People vs. Magallanes Case Digest


Jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information, and not by the result of evidence after trial. Lack of an allegation in the informations that the offenses were committed in relation to the office of the accused PNP officers or were intimately connected with the discharge of the functions of the accused, the subject cases come within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court and not of the Sandiganbayan.


Facts: 

In 1994, two informations for kidnapping for ransom with murder were filed with the RTC of Bacolod City against 14 persons, 5 of whom are members of the PNP. Each of the accused pleaded not guilty upon arraignment. After, the prosecution rested its case, the trial court started to receive the evidence for the accused.

Later, the private prosecutors moved for the transmittal of the records of the cases to the Sandiganbayan on the ground that the trial court has no jurisdiction over the cases because the offenses charged were committed in relation to the office of the accused PNP officers.

The trial court, thru respondent Judge, ruled that the Sandiganbayan does not have jurisdiction over the subject cases because the informations do not state that the offenses were committed in relation to the office of the accused PNP officers. It held that the allegation in the informations that the accused PNP officers took advantage of their office in the commission of the offense charged is merely an allegation of an aggravating circumstance. It further stated that a public office is not a constituent element of the offense of kidnapping with murder nor is the said offense intimately connected with the office. It then denied the motion for transfer of the records to the Sandiganbayan and declared that the trial of the case should continue.

The prosecution filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with a prayer for a temporary restraining order, challenging the refusal of the judge to transfer the cases to the Sandiganbayan. The petitioner submits that the crimes charged in the subject cases were connected with public office because the accused PNP officers, together with the civilian agents, arrested the two swindling suspects in the course of the performance of their duty and not out of personal motive, and if they demanded from the two suspects the production of the money of the Dumancas spouses and later killed the two; they did so in the course of the investigation conducted by them as policemen. The petitioner further asserts that the allegations in the informations reading "taking advantage of his position as Station Commander of the Philippine National Police" and "taking advantage of their respective positions" presuppose the exercise of the functions attached to the office of the accused PNP officers and are sufficient to show that the offenses charged were committed in relation to their office.


Issues:

1. Who has jurisdiction over the cases?

2. Were the offense committed in relation to the office of the accused PNP officers?


Held:

1. The jurisdiction of a court may be determined by the law in force at the time of the commencement of the action. When the informations in the cases were filed, the law governing the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan was P.D. 1861, which provides that the Sandiganbayan shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over cases involving: 1) violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; 2) offenses committed by public officers in relation to their office, where the penalty prescribed is higher than prision correccional or imprisonment of six (6) years, or a fine of P 6,000.00. If the penalty for the offense charged does not exceed imprisonment of six (6) years or a fine of P6,000.00, it shall be tried by the Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court or the Municipal Circuit Trial Court.


2. It is an elementary rule that jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information, and not by the result of evidence after trial.

The informations in the court below do not indicate that the accused arrested and investigated the victims and then killed the latter in the course of the investigation. The informations merely allege that the accused, for the purpose of extracting or extorting the sum of P353,000.00, abducted, kidnapped, and detained the two victims, and failing in their common purpose, they shot and killed the said victims. For the purpose of determining jurisdiction, it is these allegations that shall control, and not the evidence presented by the prosecution at the trial.

The allegation of "taking advantage of his position" or "taking advantage of their respective positions" incorporated in the informations is not sufficient to bring the offenses within the definition of "offenses committed in relation to public office." In Montilla vs. Hilario, such an allegation was considered merely as an allegation of an aggravating circumstance, and not as one that qualifies the crime as having been committed in relation to public office.

Also, in Bartolome vs. People of the Philippines, despite the allegation that the accused public officers committed the crime of falsification of official document by "taking advantage of their official positions," this Court held that the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over the case because "[t]he information [did] not allege that there was an intimate connection between the discharge of official duties and the commission of the offense."

Accordingly, for lack of an allegation in the informations that the offenses were committed in relation to the office of the accused PNP officers or were intimately connected with the discharge of the functions of the accused, the subject cases come within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court and not of the Sandiganbayan as insisted by the petitioner.

Moreover, the Sandiganbayan has partly lost its jurisdiction over cases involving violations of R.A. 3019, as amended in R.A. 1379 because it only retains jurisdiction on cases enumerated in subsection (a) when the public officers rank is classified as Grade “27” or higher. In the case at bar, none of the PNP officers involved occupy a position classified as Grade “27” or higher.

Lastly, the courts cannot be divested of jurisdiction which was already acquired before the subsequent enactment of R.A. 7975 which limited the Sandiganbayan‟s jurisdiction to officers whose rank is Grade“27” or higher. Jurisdiction once acquired is not affected by subsequent legislative enactment placing jurisdiction in another tribunal. It remains with the court until the case is finally terminated. Hence, cases already under the jurisdiction of the courts at the time of the enactment of R.A. 7975 are only referred to the proper courts if trial has not yet begun at that time. (People vs. Magallanes, G.R. Nos. 118013-14, October 11, 1995)

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