"x x x.
The Regional Trial Court did not have jurisdiction
Jurisdiction of a court over the subject matter is vested by law.46 In criminal cases, the imposable penalty of the crime charged in the information determines the court that has jurisdiction over the case.47
The information charged Antonio Garcia with violation of Article 318 of the Revised Penal Code, which is punishable by arresto mayor, or imprisonment for a period of one (1) month and one (1) day to six (6) months. Article 318 states:
ART. 318: Other deceits. – The penalty of arresto mayor and a fine of not less than the amount of the damage caused and not more than twice such amount shall be imposed upon any person who shall defraud or damage another by any other deceit not mentioned in the preceding articles of this chapter.
Any person who, for profit or gain, shall interpret dreams, make forecasts, tell fortunes, or take advantage of the credulity of the public in any other similar manner, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayoror a fine not exceeding 200 pesos.
When the information was filed on September 3, 1990, the law in force was Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 before it was amended by Republic Act No. 7691. Under Section 32 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, the Metropolitan Trial Court had jurisdiction over the case:
SEC. 32. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in criminal cases.–
. . . .
2. Exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable with imprisonment of not exceeding four years and two months, or a fine of not more than four thousand pesos, or both such fine and imprisonment, 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 where the imposable fine does not exceed twenty thousand pesos. (Emphasis supplied)
The Regional Trial Court did not have jurisdiction to hear and decide the case. This lack of jurisdiction resulted in voiding all of the trial court’s proceedings and the judgment rendered.48 Although the trial court’s lack of jurisdiction was never raised as an issue in any part of the proceedings and even until it reached this court, we proceed with resolving the matter.
In Pangilinan v. Court of Appeals,49 this court held:
Thus, we apply the general rule thatjurisdiction is vested by law and cannot be conferred or waived by the parties. Even on appeal and even if the reviewing parties did not raise the issue of jurisdiction, the reviewing court is not precluded fromruling that the lower court had no jurisdiction over the case[.]
. . . .
Having arrived at the conclusion that the Regional Trial Court did not have jurisdiction to try the case against the appellant, it is no longer necessary to consider the other issues raised as the decision of the Regional Trial Court is null and void.50
The trial court’s lack of jurisdiction cannot be cured by the parties’ silence on the matter.51 The failure of the parties to raise the matter of jurisdiction also cannot be construed as a waiver of the parties. Jurisdiction is conferred by law and cannot be waived by the parties.
The assailed decision is void, considering that it originates from a void decision of the Regional Trial Court for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter.
x x x."
vs. FERRO CHEMICALS, INC., Respondent.