Asistio vs. People and Nealiga, G.R. No. 200465 – Case Digest

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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.

FACTS

Petitioner Jocelyn Asistio was charged with violation of Section 46 of the Cooperative Code of the Philippines for allegedly amassing a substantive amount of money by entering into a dealership deal with Coca-Cola in her private capacity instead that of A. Mabini Elementary School Teachers Multi-Purpose Cooperative’s which she then chaired.

After an investigation, Neaiga, representing the Cooperative, filed the Information before the RTC but the latter dismissed the case for want of jurisdiction. The RTC opined that offenses bearing a penalty of imprisonment which does not exceed six years are within the exclusive jurisdiction of first-level courts. After the RTC denied their motion for reconsideration, Nealiga and the OSG appealed the case before the Court of Appeals which reversed the lower Court’s decision. Aggrieved, Asistio filed the instant petition.

ISSUE

Which court has the jurisdiction over the case?

RULING

The Regional Trial Court

The Court held that 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. The Court held that Section 32 of B.P. Blg. 129, as amended, provides that the MeTC has exclusive jurisdiction over offenses punishable with imprisonment not exceeding six years, irrespective of the amount of fine and RTC if punishable with imprisonment exceeding six years by virtue of Sec. 20.

In the instant case, the Supreme Court affirmed CA’s ruling that the RTC, not the MeTC, has jurisdiction over Asistio’s criminal case for violation of Section 46 of RA 6938. The Court gave credence to the submission of the OSG that Section “47” is a clerical error because the “liability of directors, officers and committee members” is undisputedly governed by Section 46 of RA 6938, while Section 47 thereof deals with the compensation of directors, officers and employees.

Following this interpretation, violation of [Sec] 46, therefore, is punishable by a fine of not less than Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00), or imprisonment of not less than five (5) years but not more than ten (10) years or both at the court’s discretion, which under B.P. Blg. 129, shall be within the jurisdiction of the RTC.