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Philippine Laws -Simplified

By Giancarlo Enrico S. Pozon

Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Do not underestimate this post! It can save you a lot of money and help you find out if your
lawyer can be trusted or not!

The case of Zamora vs. CA (183 SCRA 279) defines jurisdiction as "the power to hear, try
and decide a case." If the court has no jurisdiction, the case isn't in its control. While
jurisdiction is the power to hear and decide a case, procedure is the manner or process of
hearing and deciding a case. There are 4 kinds of jurisdiction:

1.) As to cases tried: General (all cases) and limited (specific cases.)
2.) As to nature of cause: Original (where the case began) and appellate (when brought to a
higher court for review; higher courts won't entertain problems unless the lower courts can't
solve them first -but there are exceptions, like habeas corpus.)
3.) As to extent of exercise: Exclusive (limited to a particular court) and concurrent (when
different courts can try the same subject matter at the same time and place; the court whose
jurisdiction was first called on takes over the case and the other courts won't touch it.)
4.) As to situs: territorial (limited to the area) and extra-territorial (extends beyond the
territorial limits.)

Jurisdiction falls into 2 groups: civil and criminal. The kinds of jurisdiction have their
respective places within the 2 groups. ex. Family courts, Sandiganbayan etc.) For
jurisdiction of the court to be valid it must have jurisdiction over the parties to the case,
jurisdiction over the subject matter (it must be mentioned in the complaint,) jurisdiction over
the res (property) and jurisdiction over the issue.

Civil Jurisdiction

In civil cases, it's the law at the time that governs the subject matter of the case. Jurisdiction
over the subject matter can be questioned by the defendant (or by the court, on its own
initiative) any time, even after judgment becomes final except if there's estoppel. The plaintiff
(the complaining party) comes under the jurisdiction of the court when he sues the
defendant. The defendant comes under the court's jurisdiction only if summons were
properly served on him or if he appears in court voluntarily. The defendant can question the
court's jurisdiction, but only at the proper time -and if he doesn't he waives the right to
question the jurisdiction.) Jurisdiction over the res happens when the property in question is
seized, either actually or constructively. Jurisdiction over the issue comes either through the
parties' consent or through their pleadings. Also, payment of the docket fees (with certain
exceptions) completes the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.

Now for the specifics:

1.) First-level courts (MTC, MeTC, MTCC, MCTC)

Exclusive Original

All cases where the value in question is Php300,000.00 or less (or Php400,000.00 or less in
Metro Manila;) Inclusion and exclusion of voters; Cases on real property (or any interest in
them) valued at Php20,000.00 or less (Php50,000.00 or less in Metro Manila;) Provisional
remedies in principal actions within their jurisdiction; those covered by the Rules on
Summary procedure (like Forcible Entry and Unlawful Detainer;) and, all other civil cases
except probate ones where the maximum claim of the plaintiff is Php100,000.00
(Php200,000.00 in Metro Manila) not including interest and costs.


The SC may designate it to hear land cases with no controversy or, if there is a controversy,
the value is Php100,000.00 or less.


Habeas corpus cases or applications of bail if there's no RTC judge.

2.) The RTC

Exclusive Original

If the action has no pecuniary estimation (no money involved;) if the real property (or interest
in it) is higher than Php20,000.00 (Php50,000.00 in Metro Manila;) All cases where the value
in question is higher than Php300,000.00 (Php400,000.00 in Metro Manila;) Family court
cases; cases that aren't in the exclusive jurisdiction of any court or quasi-judicial body; Civil
actions and special proceedings falling within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and the Court of Agrarian Relations as now provided
by law; and, all other cases where the value of the property in question is higher than
Php300,000.00 (Php400,000.00 in Metro Manila) not including damages, costs, attorney's
fees, etc.


With the SC: cases involving ambassadors, public ministers and consuls. With the SC and
CA: issuance of writs of certiorari, prohibition, quo warranto, mandamus and injunction
against lower courts. With the Insurance Commissioner: claims with a maximum of


Certain branches may be designated by the SC to try exclusively criminal cases, juvenile
and domestic violence cases, agrarian cases, urban land reform cases not in the jurisdiction
of any quasi-judicial body and other special cases in the interest of justice.


All cases decided by the lower courts in their territorial jurisdiction.

3.) The CA


Cases for the annulment of an RTC judgment


With the SC: petitions for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition against the RTC, NLRC and
quasi-judicial agencies. With the SC and RTC: petitions of certiorari, prohibition and
mandamus against the lower courts and other bodies and petitions for habeas corpus and
quo warranto.


All final judgments, decisions, etc. of the RTC and quasi-judicial agencies except those
under the exclusive appellate jurisdiction of the SC mentioned in the law and constitution.

4.) The SC

Exclusive Original

Petitions for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus against the CA, COMELEC, COA and


With the CA: petitions for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus against the RTC,
quasi-judicial agencies and NLRC (for NLRC and quasi-judicial agencies, this must first go to
the CA.) With the CA and RTC: petitions for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus against
lower courts and petitions for habeas corpus and quo warranto. With the RTC: Actions
against ambassadors, public ministers and consuls.


On appeal or certiorari, review, reverse revise, affirm or modify the following: errors or
questions of law; cases where the penalty is reclusion perpetua or higher; where the
jurisdiction of a lower court is questioned; the legality of taxes, tolls, imposts, assessments or
related penalties; or any case where the constitutionality or validity of a treaty, law order,
agreement, proclamation, instruction or presidential decree is questioned.

Criminal Jurisdiction

There are only 3 requisites for acquiring jurisdiction: over the subject matter, which is
determined by the facts in the complaint; over the territory, which is where the crime was
committed, generally (there are exceptions;) and, over the accused which either happens
through arrest or voluntary appearance in court by either posting bail, filing a motion to
quash or appearing at arraignment or entering trial. The exceptions to jurisdiction over
territory are the following:

1.) The crime is committed in a moving plane, ship, train or private vehicle passing through
several territories (any of the territories can be the place of trial.)
2.) Cases of piracy, which is an international crime and can be tried anywhere in the world.
3.) Libel cases.
4.) If the SC orders a transfer to prevent injustice.
5.) Complex or continuing crimes (the place may be where the accused is found and the
venue is where any part of the crime was committed; for a complex crime, the court with the
jurisdiction to impose the highest penalty for the crime.)
6.) Where the law provides

The specifics are:

1.) The SC

All cases where only errors or questions of law are involved; automatic review of criminal
cases where reclusion perpetua is imposed by the RTC or Sandiganbayan (we don't have
the death penalty anymore;) all criminal cases from the RTC or Sandiganbayan whose
penalties are life imprisonment or reclusion perpetua and those which, even if they're not
punished with those penalties, came from the same occurrence or were committed by the
accused on the same occasion.

2.) The CA

Appeals from the RTC, including cases of automatic review.

3.) The Sandiganbayan

Violations of the Anti-graft Law and other offenses committed by public officials in relation to
their office if their salary grade is G 27 or higher and over private individuals collaborating
with these officials as principals, accomplices or accessories.

4.) The RTC

Criminal cases whose penalty exceeds 6 years' imprisonment regardless of the fine; but if
the penalty is only a fine, if it's more than Php4,000.00; crimes where the accused is a public
official or private individual working with him with a salary grade lower than G 27, or if the
crime wasn't committed in relation to the office of the official; family courts cases; and, all
cases decided by the first-level courts.

5.) The First-level courts (MTC, MCTC, MTCC, MeTC)

All violations of city and municipal ordinances committed within their jurisdictions; all crimes
punishable by imprisonment of 6 years or less, regardless of fine and other penalties or if the
penalty is only a fine that is Php4,000.00 or less; crimes involving damage to property
through criminal negligence regardless of the fine; and, all offenses where the accused is a
public official with salary grade less than G 27 or any private person collaborating with him,
or if the crime wasn't committed in relation to his office.

Also the first-level courts can entertain applications for bail if there are no RTC judges
Enrico at 2:48 AM

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