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[ GR No. 6992, Aug 30, 1912 ]



23 Phil. 100

[ G. R. No. 6992, August 30, 1912 ]




The appellants in this case,  seven in number, were charged under section 1 of Act No. 518 as amended by section 1 of Act No.  1121 with the  crime of brigandage  or  highway robbery, and each sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment.

The trial judge, the Honorable Mariano Cui,  found from the testimony presented the  following facts: 

  1. About 7 o'clock on the evening of December 31, 1903, the residents of the town of Alabat, Tayabas Province, heard the report of a gun and the cry of "tulisan."  Immediately following this alarm, a band of armed  men  entered the municipal building, bound the presidente, and took him out into the street, and then took from the municipal building seven guns which they found therein.   Later on in the night they killed the justice of the peace of that town.  
  2. About 7 o'clock on the evening of February 4, 1904, a band of some twenty men, three armed with guns and the rest with bolos, entered the house of one Doroteo Maraver, situated in the sitio of Capalohan (formerly a part of the town of Capalongan, Ambos Camarines,  but at the date of the commencement of this action  a part of the  town of Calauag, Tayabas), and after warning the inmates not to move, tied and bound all the men they found therein, four in number, after which they ordered the women to prepare a meal for them, which they ate.  After eating this meal, they departed, taking with them the men whom they had bound and also some tobacco and rice.  They then went to the house of Francisco Ambas, one of their prisoners, from which place they took a hog and various other things.   They then proceeded to a river, where they liberated two of their prisoners.  About a year later the widow of Martin Ambas attempted to identify two skulls exhibited to her  in the Court of First Instance at Daet, Ambos Camarines, as being those of the two missing men.
  3. On the night of Holy Thursday of the year 1904, which was in the month of April,  a band of many men, armed with one revolver,  3 shotguns, and bolos, went to the barrio of Basiad, which was then within the jurisdiction  of the town of Capalongan, Ambos Camarines, and  took as prisoners three men, conducting them from place  to place.   One of them, Juan Talehto, made his escape and reported  to the authorities of the said town.
  4. About 9 o'clock of a morning in August, 1910, two of the accused, Agustin Jueves and Felix Jueves, accompanied by their younger brother,  Esteban Jueves, all armed with large bolos, entered the house of Serapio Juego, situated near the sea in the sitio of Pangas, municipality of Calauag, Tayabas, there being no other houses near, and without uttering a word, the two first named placed themselves in the doorway while the last named took possession of a small quantity  of rice,  valued at ?2.40, which he found  in  the house, after  which they all three left, carrying the rice with them.

Of the thirteen who were held  to answer the complaint, four, namely, Juan Manabo, Pedro Manabo, Dionisio Jamito (alias Cabayo), and Juan Saret, were not present to answer; the complaint was dismissed as to Cesareo Ocana and Bartolome Ocana on motion of the prosecution for lack of proof. The remaining seven, namely, Agustin Jueves, Roberto Toacar, Felix Jueves,  Pedro Toacar, Cesareo  Penamonte, Ciriaco Manigo, and Mauricio Manigo, were convicted  as above stated, and have all  appealed to this court.

Graciana  Laiman testified that she  was  the wife and sister-in-law, respectively, of Francisco Ambas and Martin Ambas, both deceased.  She testified that of the accused she recognized all of the seven who were finally convicted by  the trial court as being members of the gang  who took  the prisoners referred to in paragraph 2.   She stated that she was an eyewitness  to  this occurrence; that Agustin and Felix Jueves were, during 1904, and still are, residents of a neighboring barrio; that Roberto and Pedro Toacar lived in her own barrio and  near her own home; that she knew Mauricio Manigo because he was  a  woodcutter for her brother-in-law, and that at the time her husband was taken prisoner he lived in a neighboring barrio; that she remembered Giriaco Manigo because while the  band was  at the house there was a good light; that she had seen him again in the court at Daet; and that she recognized him  in the court during the trial of this case.  As for  Cesario Penamonte, she stated that he was with the  Jueves and Manigo brothers on the night in question in 1904.

Doroteo Mercader (Maraver) testified regarding the same occurrence.  He stated that the men taken prisoners were in his house at the time.  This witness was  one of the prisoners turned loose  when the band reached the river. He identified all of the seven appellants in open court, calling them by name.

Angelo Lunasco testified regarding the same event.  He stated that he was one of the prisoners turned loose on the band's arrival at the  river.  He recognized five  of the accused and pointed them out on the stand as being the Jueves and  Toacar brothers, and Mauricio Manigo.

Juan Talento testified regarding the occurrence on the night of Holy Thursday, 1904.  He stated that he was taken prisoner by the band in question on that night.   He recognized Ciriaco  Manigo  and the Toacar brothers as  being members  of the gang.

Graciana  Laiman states that Ciriaco Manigo  was one of the party who carried off her  husband on  the night of February 4, 1904; that  she saw him again in the court at Daet, and the third time during the trial of this  case. Doroteo Mexcader (Maraver), who was taken prisoner on that night, testified that this man was one of the gang, and on being requested to do  so, pointed him out to the court from among the rest.  Juan Talento testified that Manigo was one of the party which took him prisoner on the night of Holy Thursday, 1904.   The testimony of these witnesses shows conclusively that Ciriaco Manigo was a  member of the gang.

Cesareo Penamonte was pointed out by Graciana Laiman and Doroteo Mercader (Maraver) as being one of the band. Graciana Laiman stated that she saw him with the Jueves and Manigo brothers on that night.  Mercader testified that this defendant was a resident of his own barrio.

There  is no  evidence controverting  the  declarations of these witnesses.  These witnesses had excellent opportunities to  note the features of the different members of the party, while it was engaged in its unlawful acts.  The guilt of all the appellants has been established beyond any question of a doubt by direct and positive testimony.

Counsel insist, first, that the  court  of  Tayabas  had no jurisdiction  to try these  appellants for the reason that the territory where the  acts  complained  of  were committed belonged to  the Province of Ambos Camarines at the time of the commission of said  acts, although it has since been transferred  to the Province of Tayabas; and second, that section 3 of Act No. 518 is invalid as opposed to the Philippine Bill.   The record showing nothing to  the  contrary, we assume that the complaint was filed subsequent to the transfer  of  territory in question.  Such  being  the case, the question is raised  Does a court have jurisdiction of crimes committed in  a  particular locality prior  to the time such locality was included within the jurisdiction of such  court?  If  this question can  be answered  in  the affirmative, we do not need to  consider the validity of section 3 of Act No. 518 in  order to dispose of this objection.

The general rule is that the jurisdiction of a court is determined (1) by the geographical limits of the territory over which  it  presides,  and   (2), the actions (civil and criminal) it is  empowered to  hear and decide.   Thai the Court of First Instance of Tayabas would have had jurisdiction of this cause had the unlawful acts of the appellants been committed  subsequent to the transfer of this small strip of territory must be conceded.

Questions  of jurisdiction d,o not arise and cannot  be decided until the initial pleadings in an action are presented to a court.   A court has an inchoate right of jurisdiction over all crimes  committed within its jurisdiction  which is perfected on the institution.of the  action.   If, however, it loses jurisdiction  over a  particular action  because its territorial limits are restricted prior to the institution of the action, it also loses this  inchoate right to jurisdiction  in favor  of  the  court to which the territory  is transferred. Were the rule otherwise,  it would be necessary to prolong a court's existence indefinitely  after being legally abolished or after its authority had been legally restricted or  diminished  on  the ground  that  it  must hear possible actions arising sometime in the future.

The territory where the acts complained of in the case at bar were committed having been transferred to the Province of Tayabas prior to the institution of this  action, the court of that province had jurisdiction to hear  and determine this case.   (State vs. Donaldson, 3 Heisk.  (Tenn.), 48; State vs. Jones, 9 N. J. L., 357, 372.)   The assumption of jurisdiction  over crimes committed before jurisdiction was conferred is not in violation of the ex post facto clause of the  Philippine  Bill.  (Calder  vs. Bull, 3  Dall.,  386,  1 L. ed.,  648; Cook  vs. United States, 138 U. S.,  157,  34 L. ed., 906; Gut vs. Minnesota, 76 U. S., 35, 19 L. ed., 573.)

The change of  the territory after  the crime was committed and  before the  institution of  this  action  does  not touch the offense nor change the  punishment  therefor.   It only includes the  place  of the commission of the offense within another judicial district, and subjects the appellants the trial in  that  district.   This would  not alter the situation of the appellants in respect to their offense  or its consequences If it  did, owing to the  peculiar jurisdiction conferred upon Courts of First Instance in case of brigandage and the  elements constituting this crime, especially that of conspiracy, the result would be the same.

For the foregoing reasons,  the  judgment appealed from is affirmed with costs against the appellants.  So ordered.

Arellano, C. J., Mapa, Johnson, and  Carson, JJ., concur.