AAA vs. BBB, G.R. No. 212448, January 11, 2018



AAA and BBB were married on August 1, 2006 in Quezon City. Their union produced 2 children. In May 2007, BBB started working in Singapore as a chef, where he acquired permanent resident status in September 2008. This petition nonetheless indicates his address to be in Quezon City where his parents reside and where AAA also resided from the time they were married until March 2010, when AAA and their children moved back to her parents’ house in Pasig City.

AAA claimed, albeit not reflected in the Information, that BBB sent little to no financial support, and only sporadically. This allegedly compelled her to fly extra hours and take on additional jobs to augment her income as a flight attendant. There were also allegations of virtual abandonment, mistreatment of her and their CCC, and physical and sexual violence. To make matters worse, BBB supposedly started having an affair with a Singaporean woman named Lisel Mok with whom he allegedly has been living in Singapore. Things came to a head on April 19, 2011 when AAA and BBB had a violent altercation at a hotel room in Singapore during her visit with their kids. As can be gathered from earlier cited Information, despite the claims of varied forms of abuses, the investigating prosecutor found sufficient basis to charge BBB with causing AAA mental and emotional anguish through his alleged marital infidelity.

A warrant of arrest and hold departure order were issued but BBB continued to evade arrest. Consequently, the case was archived. However, on November 6, 2013, an Entry of Appearance as Counsel for the Accused With Omnibus Motion to Revive Case, Quash Information, Lift Hold Departure Order and Warrant of Arrest was filed on behalf of BBB. The motion to quash was granted on ground of lack of jurisdiction (acts complained of had occurred in Singapore).

AAA’s motion for reconsideration was denied so she sought direct recourse to the Supreme Court via petition for review under Rule 45 on pure question of law. In the main, AAA argues that mental and emotional anguish is an essential element of the offense charged against BBB, which is experienced by her wherever she goes, and not only in Singapore where the extra-marital affair takes place; thus, the RTC of Pasig City where she resides can take cognizance of the case. In support of her theory, AAA specifically cites Section 7 on Venue of R.A. 9262 and Section 4 on liberal construction of the law to promote the protection and safety of victims of violence against women and their children.

In his Comment, BBB contends that the grant of the motion to quash is in effect an acquittal; that only the civil aspect of a criminal case may be appealed by the private offended party, and that the petition should be dismissed for having been brought before the Court by AAA instead of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) as counsel for the People in appellate proceedings. BBB also asserts that the petition is belatedly filed.





AAA’s motion for extension to file the petition was timely filed. Thus, considering its timeliness, she was granted an additional period to file a petition for review. In her motion for extension of time, it was mentioned that she was awaiting the OSG’s response to her Letter, requesting for representation. Since, the OSG was unresponsive to her plea for assistance in filing the intended petition, AAA filed the present petition in her own name before the lapse of the extension given her by this Court.

The Court found that under the circumstances, the ends of substantial justice will be better served by entertaining the petition if only to resolve the question of law lodged before this Court. In Morillo v. People of the Philippines, et al., where the Court entertained a Rule 45 petition which raised only a question of law filed by the private offended party in the absence of the OSG’s participation, the Court allowed it in the interest of substantial justice.

Dismissal vs. Acquittal

Morillo, also differentiated between dismissal and acquittal, thus:

Acquittal is always based on the merits, that is, the defendant is acquitted because the evidence does not show that defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; but dismissal does not decide the case on the merits or that the defendant is not guilty. Dismissal terminates the proceeding, either because the court is not a court of competent jurisdiction, or the evidence does not show that the offense was committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, or the complaint or information is not valid or sufficient in form and substance, etc. The only case in which the word dismissal is commonly but not correctly used, instead of the proper term acquittal, is when, after the prosecution has presented all its evidence, the defendant moves for the dismissal and the court dismisses the case on the ground that the evidence fails to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty; for in such case the dismissal is in reality an acquittal because the case is decided on the merits. If the prosecution fails to prove that the offense was committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the court and the case is dismissed, the dismissal is not an acquittal, inasmuch as if it were so the defendant could not be again prosecuted before the court of competent jurisdiction; and it is elemental that in such case, the defendant may again be prosecuted for the same offense before a court of competent jurisdiction.

The grant of BBB’s motion to quash may not therefore be viewed as an acquittal, which in limited instances may only be repudiated by a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 upon showing grave abuse of discretion lest the accused would be twice placed in jeopardy.

Indubitably, “the Rules do not prohibit any of the parties from filing a Rule 45 Petition with this Court, in case only questions of law are raised or involved.” “There is a question of law when the issue does not call for an examination of the probative value of the evidence presented or of the truth or falsehood of the facts being admitted, and the doubt concerns the correct application of the law and jurisprudence on the matter.”

The question of whether or not the RTC has jurisdiction in view of the peculiar provisions of R.A. No. 9262 is a question of law.

In Morillo, the Court reiterated that the jurisdiction of the court is determined by the averments of the complaint or Information, in relation to the law prevailing at the time of the filing of the filing of the complaint or Information, and the penalty provided by law for the crime charged at the time of its commission. Thus, when a case involved a proper interpretation of the rules and jurisprudence with respect to the jurisdiction of courts to entertain complaints filed therewith, it deals with a question of law that can be properly brought to this Court under Rule 45.

“We are not called upon in this case to determine the truth or falsity of the charge against BBB, much less weigh the evidence, especially as the case had not even proceeded to a full-blown trial on the merits. The issue for resolution concerns the correct application of law and jurisprudence on a given set of circumstances, i.e., whether or not Philippine courts are deprived of territorial jurisdiction over a criminal charge of psychological abuse under R.A. No. 9262 when committed through marital infidelity and the alleged illicit relationship took place outside the Philippines.


There is merit in the petition.

As jurisdiction of a court over the criminal case is determined by the allegations in the complaint or Information, threshing out the essential elements of psychological abuse under R.A. No. 9262 is crucial. In Dinamling v. People, this Court already had occasion to enumerate the elements of psychological violence under Section 5(i) of R.A. No. 9262, as follows:

  • The offended party is a woman and/or her child or children;
  • The woman is either the wife or former wife of the offender, or is a woman with whom the offender has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or is a woman with whom such offender has a common child. As for the woman’s child or children, they may be legitimate or illegitimate, or living within or without the family abode;
  • The offender causes on the woman and/or child mental or emotional anguish; and
  • The anguish is caused through acts of public ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, denial of financial support or custody of minor children or access to the children or similar such acts or omissions.

Psychological violence is an element of violation of Section 5(i) just like the mental or emotional anguish caused on the victim. Psychological violence is the means employed by the perpetrator, while mental or emotional anguish is the effect caused to or the damage sustained by the offended party. To establish psychological violence as an element of the crime, it is necessary to show proof of commission of any of the acts enumerated in Section 5(i) or similar such acts. And to establish mental or emotional anguish, it is necessary to present the testimony of the victim as such experiences are personal to this party.

R.A. No. 9262 criminalizes psychological violence causing mental or emotional suffering on the wife, NOT marital infidelity per se. Otherwise stated, it is the violence inflicted under the circumstances that the law seeks to outlaw. Marital infidelity as cited in the law is only one of the various acts by which psychological violence may be committed. Moreover, depending on the circumstances of the spouses and for a myriad reasons, the illicit relationship may or may not even be causing mental or emotional anguish on the wife. Thus, the mental or emotional suffering of the victim is an essential and distinct element in the commission of the offense.

In criminal cases, venue is jurisdictional. Thus, in Trenas v. People, the Court explained that the place where the crime was committed determines not only the venue of the action but is an essential element of jurisdiction. 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 should have taken 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 show, the court may validly take cognizance of the case. However, if the evidence adduced during the trial shows that the offense was committed somewhere else, the court should dismiss the action for want of jurisdiction.

Section 7, R.A. 9262 “Venue” pertains to jurisdiction.

As correctly pointed out by AAA, Section 7 provides that the case may be filed where the crime or any of its elements was committed at the option of the complainant. While the psychological violence as the means employed by the perpetrator is certainly an indispensable element of the offense, equally essential also is the element of mental or emotional anguish which is personal to the complainant. The resulting mental or emotional anguish is analogous to the indispensable element of damage in a prosecution for estafa, viz:

The circumstance that the deceitful manipulations or false pretenses employed by the accused, as show in the vouchers, might have been perpetrated in Quezon City does not preclude the institution of the criminal action in Mandaluyong where the damage was consummated. Deceit and damage are the basic elements of estafa. The estafa involved in this case appears to be transitory or continuing offense. It could be filed either in Quezon City or in Rizal. The theory is that a person charged with a transitory offense may be tried in any jurisdiction where the offense is in part committed. In transitory or continuing offenses in which some acts material and essential to the crime and requisite to its consummation occur in one province and some in another, the court of either province has jurisdiction to try the case, it being understood that the first court taking cognizance of the case will exclude the others.

Acts of violence against women and their children may manifest transitory or continuing crimes; meaning that some acts material and essential thereto and requisite in their consummation occur in one municipality or territory, while some occur in another. In such cases, the court wherein the any of the crime’s essential and material acts have been committed maintains jurisdiction to try the case; it being understood that the first court taking cognizance of the same excludes the other. Thus, a person charged with a continuing or transitory crime may be validly tried in any municipality or territory where the offense was in part committed.

It is necessary for Philippine courts to have jurisdiction when the abusive conduct or act of violence under Section 5(i) of R.A. No. 9262 in relation to Section 3(a), Paragraph (c) was committed outside the Philippine territory, that the victim be a resident of the place where the complaint was filed in view of the anguish suffered being a material element of the offense. In the present scenario, the offended wife and children of respondent husband are residents of Pasig City since March of 2010. Hence, the RTC of Pasig City may exercise jurisdiction over the case.

Certainly, the act causing psychological violence which under the information relates to BBB’s marital infidelity must be proven by probable cause for the purpose of formally charging the husband, and to establish the same beyond reasonable doubt for purposes of conviction. It likewise remains imperative to acquire jurisdiction over the husband. What this case concerns itself is simply whether or not a complaint for psychological abuse under R.A. No. 9262 may even be filed within the Philippines if the illicit relationship is conducted abroad. We say that even if the alleged extra-marital affair causing the offended wife mental and emotional anguish is committed abroad, the same does not place a prosecution under R.A. No. 9262 absolutely beyond the reach of Philippine courts.

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