I am presenting below a brief digest of the jurisdiction of Philippine courts as contained in BATAS PAMBANSA Blg. 129, as amended. for the benefit of foreign legal researchers visiting this blog.
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Section 1. Title. — This Act shall be known as "The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980."
Section 2. Scope. — The reorganization herein provided shall include the Court of Appeals, the Court of First Instance, the Circuit Criminal Courts, the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts, the Courts of Agrarian Relations, the City Courts, the Municipal Courts, and the Municipal Circuit Courts.
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COURT OF APPEALS
Section 3. Organization. — There is hereby created a Court of Appeals which consists of a Presiding Justice and fifty Associate Justice who shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines. The Presiding Justice shall be so designated in his appointment, and the Associate Justice shall have precedence according to the dates of their respective appointments, or when the appointments of two or more of them shall bear the same date, according to the order in which their appointments were issued by the President. Any member who is reappointed to the Court after rendering service in any other position in the government shall retain the precedence to which he was entitled under his original appointment, and his service in the Court shall, for all intents and purposes, be considered as continuous and uninterrupted. (as amended by Exec. Order No. 33,, July 28, 1986.)
Section 4. Exercise of powers and functions. — The Court Appeals shall exercise its powers, functions, and duties, through seventeen (17) divisions, each composed of three (3) members. The Court may sit en banc only for the purpose of exercising administrative, ceremonial, or other non-adjudicatory functions. (as amended by Exec. Order No. 33,.)
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COURT OF APPEALS
Section 9. Jurisdiction. – The Court of Appeals shall Exercise:
1. Original jurisdiction to issue writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, and quo warranto, and auxiliary writs or processes, whether or not in aid of its appellate jurisdiction;
2. Exclusive original jurisdiction over actions for annulment of judgements of Regional Trial Courts; and
3. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all final judgements, resolutions, orders or awards of Regional Trial Courts and quasi-judicial agencies, instrumentalities, boards or commission, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Social Security Commission, the Employees Compensation Commission and the Civil Service Commission, Except those falling within the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in accordance with the Constitution, the Labor Code of the Philippines under Presidential Decree No. 442, as amended, the provisions of this Act, and of subparagraph (1) of the third paragraph and subparagraph 4 of the fourth paragraph od Section 17 of the Judiciary Act of 1948.
The court of Appeals shall have the power to try cases and conduct hearings, receive evidence and perform any and all acts necessary to resolve factual issues raised in cases falling within its original and appellate jurisdiction, including the power to grant and conduct new trials or Appeals must be continuous and must be completed within three (3) months, unless extended by the Chief Justice. (as amended by R.A. No. 7902.)
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Section 11. Quorum – A majority of the actual members of the Court shall constitute a quorum for its session en banc. Three members shall constitute a quorum for the session of a division. The unanimous vote of the three members of a division shall be necessary for the pronouncement of a decision of final resolution, which shall be reached in consultation before the writing of the opinion by any members of the division. In the event that the three members do not reach a unanimous vote, the Presiding Justice shall request the Raffle Committee of the Court for the designation of two additional Justice to sit temporarily with them, forming a special division of five members and the concurrence of a majority of such division shall be necessary for the pronouncement of a decision or final resolution. The designation of such additional Justice shall be made strictly by raffle.
A month for reconsideration of its decision or final resolution shall be resolved by the Court within ninety (90) days from the time it is submitted for resolution, and no second motion for reconsideration from the same party shall be entertainment. (as amended by Exec. Order No. 33, July 28, 1986.)
Section 12. Internal Rules. – The court en banc is authorized to promulgate rules or orders governing the constitution of the divisions and the assignment of Appellate Justices thereto, the distribution of cases, and other matters pertaining to the operations of the Court of its divisions. Copies of such rules and orders shall be furnished by the Supreme Court, which rules and orders shall be effective fifteen (15) days after receipt thereof, unless directed otherwise by the Supreme Court.
REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS
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Section 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. — Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction:
(1) In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary estimation;
(2) In all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein, where the assessed value of the property involved exceeds Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or for civil actions in Metro Manila, where such the value exceeds Fifty thousand pesos (50,000.00) except actions for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts;
(3) In all actions in admiralty and maritime jurisdiction where he demand or claim exceeds One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) or , in Metro Manila, where such demand or claim exceeds Two hundred thousand pesos (200,000.00);
(4) In all matters of probate, both testate and intestate, where the gross value of the estate exceeds One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) or, in probate matters in Metro Manila, where such gross value exceeds Two hundred thousand pesos (200,000.00);
(5) In all actions involving the contract of marriage and marital relations;
(6) In all cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, person or body exercising jurisdiction or any court, tribunal, person or body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions;
(7) In all civil actions and special proceedings falling within the exclusive original jurisdiction of a Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and of the Courts of Agrarian Relations as now provided by law; and
(8) In all other cases in which the demand, exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney's fees, litigation expenses, and costs or the value of the property in controversy exceeds One hundred thousand pesos (100,000.00) or, in such other abovementioned items exceeds Two hundred thousand pesos (200,000.00). (as amended by R.A. No. 7691*)
Section 20. Jurisdiction in criminal cases. — Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction in all criminal cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal or body, except those now falling under the exclusive and concurrent jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan which shall hereafter be exclusively taken cognizance of by the latter.
Section 21. Original jurisdiction in other cases. — Regional Trial Courts shall exercise original jurisdiction:
(1) In the issuance of writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction which may be enforced in any part of their respective regions; and
(2) In actions affecting ambassadors and other public ministers and consuls.
Section 22. Appellate jurisdiction. — Regional Trial Courts shall exercise appellate jurisdiction over all cases decided by Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in their respective territorial jurisdictions. Such cases shall be decided on the basis of the entire record of the proceedings had in the court of origin and such memoranda and/or briefs as may be submitted by the parties or required by the Regional Trial Courts. The decision of the Regional Trial Courts in such cases shall be appealable by petition for review to the
Court of Appeals which may give it due course only when the petition shows prima facie that the lower court has committed an error of fact or law that will warrant a reversal or modification of the decision or judgment sought to be reviewed.
Section 23. Special jurisdiction to try special cases. — The Supreme Court may designate certain branches of the Regional Trial Courts to handle exclusively criminal cases, juvenile and domestic relations cases, agrarian cases, urban land reform cases which do not fall under the jurisdiction of quasi-judicial bodies and agencies, and/or such other special cases as the Supreme Court may determine in the interest of a speedy and efficient administration of justice.
Section 24. Special Rules of Procedure. — Whenever a Regional Trial Court takes cognizance of juvenile and domestic relation cases and/or agrarian cases, the special rules of procedure applicable under present laws to such cases shall continue to be applied, unless subsequently amended by law or by rules of court promulgated by the Supreme Court.
METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS,
AND MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL COURTS
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Section 32. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in criminal cases. — Except in cases falling within the exclusive original jurisdiction of Regional Trial Courts and of the Sandiganbayan, the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:
(1) Exclusive original jurisdiction over all violations of city or municipal ordinances committed within their respective territorial jurisdiction; and
(2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable with imprisonment not exceeding six (6) years irrespective of the amount of fine, and regardless of other imposable accessory or other penalties, including the civil liability arising from such offenses or predicated thereon, irrespective of kind, nature, value, or amount thereof: Provided, however, That in offenses involving damage to property through criminal negligence they shall have exclusive original jurisdiction thereof. (as amended by R.A, No. 7691)
Section 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in civil cases. — Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:
(1) Exclusive original jurisdiction over civil actions and probate proceedings, testate and intestate, including the grant of provisional remedies in proper cases, where the value of the personal property, estate, or amount of the demand does not exceed One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) or, in Metro Manila where such personal property, estate, or amount of the demand does not exceed Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00) exclusive of interest damages of whatever kind, attorney's fees, litigation expenses, and costs, the amount of which must be specifically alleged: Provided, That where there are several claims or causes of action between the same or different parties, embodied in the same complaint, the amount of the demand shall be the totality of the claims in all the causes of action, irrespective of whether the causes of action arose out of the same or different transactions;
(2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over cases of forcible entry and unlawful detainer: Provided, That when, in such cases, the defendant raises the question of ownership in his pleadings and the question of possession cannot be resolved without deciding the issue of ownership, the issue of ownership shall be resolved only to determine the issue of possession.
(3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein where the assessed value of the property or interest therein does not exceed Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or, in civil actions in Metro Manila, where such assessed value does not exceed Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind, attorney's fees, litigation expenses and costs: Provided, That value of such property shall be determined by the assessed value of the adjacent lots. (as amended by R.A. No. 7691)
Section 34. Delegated jurisdiction in cadastral and land registration cases. — Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts may be assigned by the Supreme Court to hear and determine cadastral or land registration cases covering lots where there is no controversy or opposition, or contested lots the where the value of which does not exceed One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00), such value to be ascertained by the affidavit of the claimant or by agreement of the respective claimants if there are more than one, or from the corresponding tax declaration of the real property. Their decisions in these cases shall be appealable in the same manner as decisions of the Regional Trial Courts. (as amended by R.A. No. 7691)
Section 35. Special jurisdiction in certain cases. — In the absence of all the Regional Trial Judges in a province or city, any Metropolitan Trial Judge, Municipal Trial Judge, Municipal Circuit Trial Judge may hear and decide petitions for a writ of habeas corpus or applications for bail in criminal cases in the province or city where the absent Regional Trial Judges sit.
Section 36. Summary procedures in special cases. — In Metropolitan Trial Courts and Municipal Trial Courts with at least two branches, the Supreme Court may designate one or more branches thereof to try exclusively forcible entry and unlawful detainer cases, those involving violations of traffic laws, rules and regulations, violations of the rental law, and such other cases requiring summary disposition as the Supreme Court may determine. The Supreme Court shall adopt special rules or procedures applicable to such cases in order to achieve an expeditious and inexpensive determination thereof without regard to technical rules. Such simplified procedures may provide that affidavits and counter-affidavits may be admitted in lieu of oral testimony and that the periods for filing pleadings shall be non-extendible.
Section 37. Preliminary investigation. — Judges of Metropolitan Trial Courts, except those in the National Capital Region, of Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall have authority to conduct preliminary investigation of crimes alleged to have been committed within their respective territorial jurisdictions which are cognizable by the Regional Trial Courts.
The preliminary investigation shall be conducted in accordance with the procedure prescribed in Section 1, paragraphs (a), (b), (c), and (d), of Presidential Decree No. 911: Provided, however, That if after the preliminary investigation the Judge finds a prima facie case, he shall forward the records of the case to the Provincial/City Fiscal for the filing of the corresponding information with the proper court.
No warrant of arrest shall be issued by the Judge in connection with any criminal complaint filed with him for preliminary investigation, unless after an examination in writing and under oath or affirmation of the complainant and his witnesses, he finds that a probable cause exists.
Any warrant of arrest issued in accordance herewith may be served anywhere in the Philippines.
Section 38. Judgments and processes. —
(1) All judgments determining the merits of cases shall be in writing, stating clearly the facts and the law on which they were based, signed by the Judge and filed with the Clerk of Court. Such judgment shall be appealable to the Regional Trial Courts in accordance with the procedure now prescribed by law for appeals to the Court of First Instance, by the provisions of this Act, and by such rules as the Supreme Court may hereafter prescribe.
(2) All processes issued by the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts, in cases falling within their jurisdiction, may be served anywhere in the Philippines without the necessity of certification by the Judge of the Regional Trial Court.
Section 39. Appeals. — The period for appeal from final orders, resolutions, awards, judgments, or decisions of any court in all cases shall be fifteen (15) days counted from the notice of the final order, resolution, award, judgment, or decision appealed from: Provided however, That in habeas corpus cases, the period for appeal shall be forty-eight (48) hours from the notice of the judgment appealed from.
No record on appeal shall be required to take an appeal. In lieu thereof, the entire record shall be transmitted with all the pages prominently numbered consecutively, together with an index of the contents thereof.
This section shall not apply in appeals in special proceedings and in other cases wherein multiple appeals are allowed under applicable provisions of the Rules of Court.
Section 40. Form of decision in appealed cases. — Every decision of final resolution of a court in appealed cases shall clearly and distinctly state the findings of fact and the conclusions of law on which it is based, which may be contained in the decision or final resolution itself, or adopted by reference from those set forth in the decision, order, or resolution appealed from.
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Section 45. Shari'a Courts. — Shari'a Courts to be constituted as provided for in Presidential Decree No. 1083, otherwise known as the "Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines," shall be included in the funding appropriations so provided in this Act.
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Section 47. Repealing clause. — The provisions of Republic Act No. 296, otherwise known as the Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended, of Republic Act No. 5179 as amended, of the Rules of Court, and of all other statutes, letters of instructions and general order or parts thereof, inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or accordingly modified.
Section 48. Date of Effectivity. — This Act shall take effect immediately.
Approved: August 14, 1981
*Other provisions of the Act:
"Section. 5. After five(5) years from the effectivity of this Act, the jurisdictional amounts mentioned in Sec. 19(3), (4), and (8); and Sec. 33(1) of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 as amended by this Act, shall be adjusted to Two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00). five (5) years thereafter, such jurisdictional amounts shall be adjusted further to Three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00): Provided, however, That in the case of Metro Manila, the abovementioned jurisdictional amounts shall be adjusted after five (5) years from the effectivity of this Act of Four hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00).
Section. 7. The provisions of this Act shall apply to all civil cases that have not yet reached the pre-trial stage. However, by agreement of all the parties, civil cases cognizable by municipal and metropolitan courts by the provisions of this Act may be transferred from the Regional Trial Courts to the latter. The executive judge of the appropriate Regional Trial Court shall define the administrative procedure of transferring the cases affected by the redefinition of jurisdiction to the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Court, and Municipal Circuit Trial Court."
*Criminal cases falling within the jurisdiction of Family Courts (established by the Family Courts Act of 1997 [R.A. No. 8369]) have been transferred from Metropolitan trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, Municipal trial Court in Cities, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts to Regional trial Courts under A.M. No. 99-1-13-SC effective March 1, 1999.