Venue in cases of falsification of private documents

Venue in criminal cases is an essential element of jurisdiction.[1] This principle was explained by the Court in Foz, Jr. v. People,[2] thus:
It is a fundamental rule that for jurisdiction to be acquired by courts in criminal cases the offense should have been committed or any one of its essential ingredients took place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. Territorial jurisdiction in criminal cases is the territory where the court has jurisdiction to take cognizance or to try the offense allegedly committed therein by the accused. Thus, it cannot take jurisdiction over a person charged with an offense allegedly committed outside of that limited territory. Furthermore, the jurisdiction of a court over the criminal case is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information. And once it is so shown, the court may validly take cognizance of the case. However, if the evidence adduced during the trial show that the offense was committed somewhere else, the court should dismiss the action for want of jurisdiction.[3]

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.

Section 10, Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure pertinently 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.

In Union Bank of the Philippines v. People,[4] the Supreme Court said that 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.

In cases of falsification of private documents, the venue is the place where the document is actually falsified, to the prejudice of or with the intent to prejudice a third person, regardless whether or not the falsified document is put to the improper or illegal use for which it was intended.[5]

[1] Foz, Jr., et al. v. People, 618 Phil 120 (2009).

[2 Supra.

[3] Id. at 129, citing Macasaet v. People, 492 Phil. 355, 370 (2005); and Uy v. People, G.R. No. 119000, July 28 , 1997, 276 SCRA 367.

[4] G.R. No. 192565, February 28, 2012, 667 SCRA 113, 123.

[5] U.S. v. Baretto, 36 Phil 204, 207 (1917); Lopez v. Paras, 124 Phil. 1211, 1216 (1966).

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