Judge Pozon Dismisses Motion for Reconsideration re Libel Case
(Last May 23, 2007, the Makati RTC quashed one of 13 libel cases filed against 16 officers of the PEP Coalition and dismissed it for lack of jurisdiction. Mr. Jessie John P. Gimenez, who originally filed the libel case on behalf of the Yuchengcos, filed a Motion for Reconsideration on June 19, 2007. Below is RTC 139’s decision dismissing Mr. Gimenez’ Motion for Reconsideration)
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
NATIONAL CAPITAL JUDICIAL REGION
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT
BRANCH CXXXIX (139)
CRIM. CASE NO. 06-875
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
– versus –
PHILIP PICCIO, ET AL.,
This resolves the Motion for Reconsideration filed on June 19, 2007 by the prosecution, through the private prosecutor, with Opposition filed on June 29, 2007 by accused Wonina M. Bonifacio, Jocelyn Upano, Vicente Ortuoste and Juvencio Pereche, Jr., through counsel, and Reply filed on July 25, 2007 by the prosecution, through the private prosecutors.
The motion seeks to reconsider the Order dated May 23, 2007, which quashed the Information and dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, raising the following grounds:
1. The Information sufficiently alleges that the defamatory article was printed and first published in Makati City and within the jurisdiction of this Court;
2. The Complaint-Affidavit and Reply-Affidavit of Mr. Jessie John P. Gimenez allege the requisite jurisdictional facts; and
3. The Information may only be amended following the ruling of the Supreme Court in Banal III vs. Panganiban, 475 SCRA 164 (2005).
Under the first ground raised, the prosecution asserts that the allegation in the Information is sufficient to vest the Court with jurisdiction, following the ruling of the Supreme Court in Banal III vs. Panganiban, 475 SCRA 164 (2005).
The Court, however, is not persuaded on the argument advanced by the prosecution. As previously stated, the Information fails to allege where the alleged defamatory article was printed and first published or where any of the offended parties actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense, which is similar to the Informations in the case cited in the assailed Order, to wit: Agbayani vs. Sayo; G.R. No. L-47880, April 30, 1979, 89 SCRA 699; Macasaet, et al. vs. The People of the Philippines, et al., G.R. No. 153747, February 23, 2005, 452 SCRA 255; Agustin vs. Pamintuan, et. al., G.R. No. 164938, August 22, 2005; and now in the recent case of Chavez vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 125813, February 6, 2007. Thus, pursuant to the rulings of the Supreme Court in the said cases, the Court finds no justifiable ground to disturb its previous finding.
Delving on the second ground raised, the Complaint-Affidavit and Reply-Affidavit of Mr. Jessie John P. Gimenez cannot cure the defect in the Information for being jurisdictional in nature. As stated in the aforecited case of Macasaet, “since the place of printing and first publication or the place of residence at the time are matters dealing with the fundamental issue of court’s jurisdiction, Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, mandates that either one of these statements must be alleged in the information itself and the absence of both from the very face of the Information renders the latter fatally defective.”
As to the last ground raised, amendment of the Information cannot be made to cure the defect considering that what is lacking in the information is the allegation on venue in accordance with Art. 360 of the Revised Penal Code, as Amended, which is jurisdictional in cases for libel. Had it been merely a matter of form, then amendment could be ordered in order to cure such a defect. This has been the finding of the Supreme Court in the aforecited case of Agustin vs. Pamintuan, which squarely applies to the instant case.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
Furnish copies of this Order to the parties and their respective counsels and th 4th Asst. City Prosecutor Benjamin S. Vermug, Jr.
Given in Chambers this 11th day of February 2008 at Makati City.
BENJAMIN T. POZON