See - G.R. No. 192565
"x x x.
The case presents to us the issue of what the proper venue of perjury under Article 183 of the RPC should be Makati City, where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was notarized, or Pasay City, where the Certification was presented to the trial court.
The Courts Ruling
We deny the petition and hold that the MeTC-Makati City is the proper venue and the proper court to take cognizance of the perjury case against the petitioners.
Venue of Action and Criminal Jurisdiction
Venue is an essential element of jurisdiction in criminal cases. It determines not only the place where the criminal action is to be instituted, but also the court that has the jurisdiction to try and hear the case. The reason for this rule is two-fold. First, the jurisdiction of trial courts is limited to well-defined territories such that a trial court can only hear and try cases involving crimes committed within its territorial jurisdiction. Second, laying the venue in the locus criminis is grounded on the necessity and justice of having an accused on trial in the municipality of province where witnesses and other facilities for his defense are available.
Unlike in civil cases, a finding of improper venue in criminal cases carries jurisdictional consequences. In determining the venue where the criminal action is to be instituted and the court which has jurisdiction over it, Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides:
(a) Subject to existing laws, the criminal action shall be instituted and tried in the court or municipality or territory where the offense was committed or where any of its essential ingredients occurred. [emphasis ours]
The above provision should be read in light of Section 10, Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which states:
Place of commission of the offense. The complaint or information is sufficient if it can be understood from its allegations that the offense was committed or some of its essential ingredients occurred at some place within the jurisdiction of the court, unless the particular place where it was committed constitutes an essential element of the offense charged or is necessary for its identification.
Both provisions categorically place the venue and jurisdiction over criminal cases not only in the court where the offense was committed, but also where any of its essential ingredients took place. In other words, the venue of action and of jurisdiction are deemed sufficiently alleged where the Information states that the offense was committed or some of its essential ingredients occurred at a place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.
Information Charging Perjury
Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, contains the requirement for a Certificate against Forum Shopping. The Certificate against Forum Shopping can be made either by a statement under oath in the complaint or initiatory pleading asserting a claim or relief; it may also be in a sworn certification annexed to the complaint or initiatory pleading. In both instances, the affiant is required to execute a statement under oath before a duly commissioned notary public or any competent person authorized to administer oath that: (a) he or she has not theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his or her knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, a complete statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he or she should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is pending, he or she shall report that fact within five days therefrom to the court wherein his or her aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed. In relation to the crime of perjury, the material matter in a Certificate against Forum Shopping is the truth of the required declarations which is designed to guard againstlitigants pursuing simultaneous remedies in different fora.
In this case, Tomas is charged with the crime of perjury under Article 183 of the RPC for making a false Certificate against Forum Shopping. The elements of perjury under Article 183 are:
(a) That the accused made a statement under oath or executed an affidavit upon amaterial matter.
(b) That the statement or affidavit was made before a competent officer, authorized to receive and administer oath.
(c) That in the statement or affidavit, the accused made a willful and deliberate assertion of a falsehood.
(d) That the sworn statement or affidavit containing the falsity is required by law or made for a legal purpose. (emphasis ours)
Where the jurisdiction of the court is being assailed in a criminal case on the ground of improper venue, the allegations in the complaint and information must be examined together with Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. On this basis, we find that the allegations in the Information sufficiently support a finding that the crime of perjury was committed by Tomas within the territorial jurisdiction of the MeTC-Makati City.
The first element of the crime of perjury, the execution of the subject Certificate against Forum Shopping was alleged in the Information to have been committed in Makati City. Likewise, the second and fourth elements, requiring the Certificate against Forum Shopping to be under oath before a notary public, were also sufficiently alleged in the Information to have been made in Makati City:
That on or about the 13th day of March 2000 in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make untruthful statements under oath upon a material matter before a competent person authorized to administer oath which the law requires to wit: said accused stated in the Verification/Certification/Affidavit x x x.
We also find that the third element of willful and deliberate falsehood was also sufficiently alleged to have been committed in Makati City, not Pasay City, as indicated in the last portion of the Information:
[S]aid accused stated in the Verification/Certification/Affidavit of merit of a complaint for sum of money with prayer for a writ of replevin docketed as [Civil] Case No. 342-00 of the Metropolitan Trial Court[,] Pasay City, that the Union Bank of the Philippines has not commenced any other action or proceeding involving the same issues in another tribunal or agency, accused knowing well that said material statement was false thereby making a willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood. (underscoring ours)
Tomas deliberate and intentional assertion of falsehood was allegedly shown when she made the false declarations in the Certificate against Forum Shopping before a notary public in Makati City, despite her knowledge that the material statements she subscribed and swore to were not true. Thus, Makati City is the proper venue and MeTC-Makati City is the proper court to try the perjury case against Tomas, pursuant to Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure as all the essential elements constituting the crime of perjury were committed within the territorial jurisdiction of Makati City, not Pasay City.
x x x."