Family Courts have authority and jurisdiction to consider the constitutionality of a statute.

Family Courts have authority and jurisdiction to consider the constitutionality of a statute.

At the outset, it must be stressed that Family Courts are special courts, of the same level as Regional Trial Courts. Under R.A. 8369, otherwise known as the "Family Courts Act of 1997," family courts have exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and decide cases of domestic violence against women and children. In accordance with said law, the Supreme Court designated from among the branches of the Regional Trial Courts at least one Family Court in each of several key cities identified. To achieve harmony with the first mentioned law, Section 7 of R.A. 9262 now provides that Regional Trial Courts designated as Family Courts shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over cases of VAWC defined under the latter law, viz:

SEC. 7. Venue. – The Regional Trial Court designated as a Family Court shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over cases of violence against women and their children under this law. In the absence of such court in the place where the offense was committed, the case shall be filed in the Regional Trial Court where the crime or any of its elements was committed at the option of the complainant.

Inspite of its designation as a family court, the RTC of Bacolod City remains possessed of authority as a court of general original jurisdiction to pass upon all kinds of cases whether civil, criminal, special proceedings, land registration, guardianship, naturalization, admiralty or insolvency. It is settled that RTCs have jurisdiction to resolve the constitutionality of a statute, "this authority being embraced in the general definition of the judicial power to determine what are the valid and binding laws by the criterion of their conformity to the fundamental law." The Constitution vests the power of judicial review or the power to declare the constitutionality or validity of a law, treaty, international or executive agreement, presidential decree, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation not only in this Court, but in all RTCs. We said in J.M. Tuason and Co., Inc. v. CA that, "plainly the Constitution contemplates that the inferior courts should have jurisdiction in cases involving constitutionality of any treaty or law, for it speaks of appellate review of final judgments of inferior courts in cases where such constitutionality happens to be in issue." Section 5, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution reads in part as follows: xxx. (G.R. No. 179267 June 25, 2013)

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