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VENUE IN CRIMINAL CASES IS JURISDICTIONAL

The concept of venue of actions in criminal cases, unlike in civil cases, is jurisdictional.[14] The place
where the crime was committed determines not only the venue of the action but is an essential element
of jurisdiction.[15] It is a fundamental rule that for jurisdiction to be acquired by courts in criminal
cases, the offense should have been committed or any one of its essential ingredients should have taken
place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. Territorial jurisdiction in criminal cases is the
territory where the court has jurisdiction to take cognizance or to try the offense allegedly committed
therein by the accused. Thus, it cannot take jurisdiction over a person charged with an offense allegedly
committed outside of that limited territory. Furthermore, the jurisdiction of a court over the criminal
case is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information. And once it is so shown, the court
may validly take cognizance of the case. However, if the evidence adduced during the trial shows that
the offense was committed somewhere else, the court should dismiss the action for want of
jurisdiction.[ Isip vs people Gr. No.170298 June 26, 2007]
JURISDICTION TO HOLD DEPARTURE ORDER
Circular No. 39-97 limits the authority to issue hold-departure orders to criminal cases within the
jurisdiction of second level courts. Paragraph No. 1 of the said circular specifically provides that “hold-
departure orders shall be issued only in criminal cases within the exclusive jurisdiction of the regional
trial courts.” Clearly then, criminal cases within the exclusive jurisdiction of first level courts do not fall
within the ambit of the circular, and it was an error on the part of respondent judge to have issued one
in the instant case[ MONDEJAR VS BUBAN AM NO. MTJ-01-1349]
JURISDICTION DETERMINED BY THE ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT
Settled is the rule that jurisdiction of a court over a criminal case is determined by the allegations of the
complaint or information, and the offense must have been committed or any one of its essential
ingredients took place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.
[22]
Considering that the Information
failed to allege the venue requirements for a libel case under Article 360, the Court finds that the RTC of
Iloilo City had no jurisdiction to hear this case. Thus, its decision convicting petitioners of the crime of
libel should be set aside for want of jurisdiction without prejudice to its filing with the court of
competent jurisdiction.[ FOZ VS PEOPLE OCT. 9 2009 GR. NO. 167764]
The criminal action and civil action for damages in cases of written defamations, as provided for in
this chapter shall be filed simultaneously or separately with the court of first instance of the province or
city where the libelous article is printed and first published or where any of the offended parties
actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense: Provided, however, That where one of
the offended parties is a public officer whose office is in the City of Manila at the time of the commission
of the offense, the action shall be filed in the Court of First Instance of the City of Manila or of the city or
province where the libelous article is printed and first published, and in case such public officer does not
hold office in the City of Manila, the action shall be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province or
city where he held office at the time of the commission of the offense or where the libelous article is
printed and first published and in case one of the offended parties is a private individual, the action shall
be filed in the Court of First Instance of the province or city where he actually resides at the time of the
commission of the offense or where the libelous matter is printed and first published
JURISDICTION OF SANDIGANBAYAN
Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. -- The Sandiganbayan shall exercise original jurisdiction in all
cases involving:

A. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-
Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII
of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the principal accused are officials
occupying the following positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or
interim capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense:

(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of
regional director and higher, otherwise classified as grade “27” and
higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989
(Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including:

(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors,
members of the sangguniang panlalawigan and provincial
treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other city
department heads;

(b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the
sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors,
engineers, and other city department heads.

(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying
the position of consul and higher;

(d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval
captains, and all officers of higher rank;

(e) PNP chief superintendent and PNP officers of
higher rank;

(f) City and provincial prosecutors and their
assistants, and officials and prosecutors in the Office of
the Ombudsman and Special Prosecutor;

(g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers
of government-owned or controlled corporations, state
universities or educational institutions or foundations;

(2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade
“27” and up under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of
1989;

(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions
of the Constitution;

(4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional Commissions,
without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; and

(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade “27”
and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of
1989.

B. Other offenses or felonies, whether simple or complexed with other crimes
committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in subsection (a) of this
section in relation to their office.

C. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive
Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A.

A simple analysis after a plain reading of the above provision shows that those public officials
enumerated in Section 4(a) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended, may not only be charged in the
Sandiganbayan with violations of R.A. No. 3019, R.A. No. 1379 or Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII
of the Revised Penal Code, but also with other offenses or felonies in relation to their office. The
said other offenses and felonies are broad in scope but are limited only to those that are
committed in relation to the public official or employee's office. This Court had ruled that as
long as the offense charged in the information is intimately connected with the office and is
alleged to have been perpetrated while the accused was in the performance, though improper
or irregular, of his official functions, there being no personal motive to commit the crime and
had the accused not have committed it had he not held the aforesaid office, the accused is held
to have been indicted for “an offense committed in relation” to his office [People vs
Sandiganbayan GR.No. 167304]

Evidently, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over other felonies committed by public officials in
relation to their office. We see no plausible or sensible reason to excludeestafa as one of the
offenses included in Section 4(B) of P.D. No. 1606. Plainly, estafa is one of those other
felonies. The jurisdiction is simply subject to the twin requirements that (a) the offense is
committed by public officials and employees mentioned in Section 4(A) of P.D. No. 1606, as
amended, and that (b) the offense is committed in relation to their office.[ serrana vs
sandiganbayan]

We already held that municipal mayors fall under the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan. Nor can Barangay Captain Mark Anthony Esquivel claim that since he is not a
municipal mayor, he is outside the Sandiganbayan’s jurisdiction. R.A. 7975, as amended by R.A.
No. 8249,
[35]
provides that it is only in cases where “none of the accused (underscoring supplied)
are occupying positions corresponding to salary grade ‘27’ or higher”
[36]
that “exclusive original
jurisdiction shall be vested in the proper regional trial court, metropolitan trial court, municipal
trial court, and municipal circuit court, as the case may be, pursuant to their respective
jurisdictions as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended.”
[37]
Note that under the 1991
Local Government Code, Mayor Esquivel has a salary grade of 27.
[38]
Since Barangay Captain
Esquivel is the co-accused in Criminal Case No. 24777 of Mayor Esquivel, whose position falls
under salary grade 27, the Sandiganbayan committed no grave abuse of discretion in assuming
jurisdiction over said criminal case, as well as over Criminal Case No. 24778, involving both of
them.[ Esquivel vs Ombudsman Sept.17, 2002]

JURISDICTION OF OMBUDSMAN
Sec. 15. Powers, Functions and Duties. – The Office of the Ombudsman shall have the following powers,
functions and duties:
(1) Investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any person, any act or omission
of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears
to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient. It has primary jurisdiction over cases
cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and, in the exercise of this primary jurisdiction, it may
take over, at any stage, from any investigatory agency of Government, the investigation
of such cases;
As aforementioned, Congress itself acknowledged the significant role played by the Office of
Ombudsman when it enacted Republic Act No. 6770. Section 15 (1) of said law gives the
Ombudsman primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and authorizes
him to take over, at any stage, from any investigatory agency, the investigation of such
cases. This power to take over a case at any time is not given to other investigative bodies. All
this means that the power of the Ombudsman to investigate cases cognizable by
theSandiganbayan is not co-equal with other investigative bodies, such as the DOJ. The
Ombudsman can delegate the power but the delegate cannot claim equal power. [ Dept. of
Justice vs Liwag Gr. No. 149311 Feb. 11, 2005]

The foregoing ruling of the Court has been reiterated in Camanag v. Guerrero.
[9]
More recently,
in Office of the Ombudsman v. Valera,
[10]
the Court, basing its ratio decidendi on its ruling
in Acop and Camanag, declared that the OSP is “merely a component of the Office of the
Ombudsman and may only act under the supervision and control, and upon authority of the
Ombudsman” and ruled that under R.A. No. 6770, the power to preventively suspend is lodged
only with the Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsman.
[11]
The Court's ruling in Acop that the
authority of the Ombudsman to prosecute based on R.A. No. 6770 was authorized by the
Constitution was also made the foundation for the decision in Perez v. Sandiganbayan,
[12]
where
it was held that the power to prosecute carries with it the power to authorize the filing of
informations, which power had not been delegated to the OSP. It is, therefore, beyond cavil
that under the Constitution, Congress was not proscribed from legislating the grant of additional
powers to the Ombudsman or placing the OSP under the Office of the Ombudsman.[ Lazatin vs
desierto G.R. No. 147097]

Under Sections 12 and 13, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution and RA 6770 (The Ombudsman Act
of 1989), the Ombudsman has the power to investigate and prosecute any act or omission of a
public officer or employee when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or
inefficient. It has been the consistent ruling of the Court not to interfere with the
Ombudsman's exercise of his investigatory and prosecutory powers as long as his rulings are
supported by substantial evidence. Envisioned as the champion of the people and preserver of
the integrity of public service, he has wide latitude in exercising his powers and is free from
intervention from the three branches of government. This is to ensure that his Office is
insulated from any outside pressure and improper influence. [ Presidential ad hoc Fact finding
Committee vs. Disierto july 24, 2007]

The power to investigate and to prosecute granted by law to the Ombudsman is plenary and
unqualified. It pertains to any act or omission of any public officer or employee when such act or
omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient. The law does not make a
distinction between cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and those cognizable by regular
courts. It has been held that the clause "any illegal act or omission of any public official" is broad
enough to embrace any crime committed by a public officer or employee.[Castro vs Deloria]

Review of Decision of the Ombudsman:

Well-settled is the rule that this Court will not ordinarily interfere with the Ombudsman's
exercise of his investigatory and prosecutory powers without good and compelling reasons that
indicate otherwise. The rule is based not only upon respect for the investigatory and
prosecutory powers granted by the Constitution to the Office of the Ombudsman, but upon
practicality as well. A contrary rule would encourage innumerable petitions seeking dismissal of
investigatory proceedings conducted by the Ombudsman, which would grievously hamper the
functions of the office and the courts, in much the same way that courts would be swamped by
a deluge of cases if they have to review the exercise of discretion on the part of public
prosecutors each time they decide to file an information or dismiss a complaint by a private
complainant.

INJUNCTION MAY BE ISSUED TO RESTRAIN CRIMINAL PROSECUTION:
Of course, this rule is not absolute. The aggrieved party may file a petition for certiorari under Rule 65
of the Rules of Court when the finding of the Ombudsman is tainted with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, as what the petitioner did in this case, consistent with our
ruling in Collantes v. Marcelo,
[25]
where we laid down the following exceptions to the rule:

1. When necessary to afford adequate protection to the constitutional rights of the
accused;
2. When necessary for the orderly administration of justice or to avoid oppression
or multiplicity of actions;
3. When there is a prejudicial question that is sub judice;
4. When the acts of the officer are without or in excess of authority;
5. Where the prosecution is under an invalid law, ordinance or regulation;
6. When double jeopardy is clearly apparent;
7. Where the court has no jurisdiction over the offense;
8. Where it is a case of persecution rather than prosecution;
9. Where the charges are manifestly false and motivated by the lust for vengeance;
10. When there is clearly no prima facie case against the accused and a motion to
quash on that ground has been denied.