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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 116688. August 30, 1996.]

WENEFREDO CALME, Petitioner, v. COURT OF APPEALS, former 10th Division with HON. ANTONIO M. MARTINEZ as Chairman and HON. CANCIO C. GARCIA and HON. RAMON MABUTAS as members, Respondents.


SYLLABUS


1. STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION, WHERE THE PROVISIONS OF THE LAW IS CLEAR, IT MUST BE GIVEN ITS LITERAL MEANING. — It is a basic rule in statutory construction that where the provisions of the law or rule is clear and unequivocal, its meaning must be determined from the language employed. It must be given its literal meaning and applied without attempted interpretation (Globe Mackay Cable and Radio Corp. v. NLRC, 206 SCRA [7]01; Pascual v. Pascual-Bautista, 207 SCRA 561)

2. ID.; ID.; APPLICATION OF THE RULE IN THE CASE AT BAR. — Act No. 400 was amended by Sec. 15(c), Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court in that under the former law, jurisdiction was conferred to the CFI of any province into which the ship or water craft upon which the crime or offense was committed shall come after the commission thereof, while the present rule provides that jurisdiction is vested "in the proper court of the first port of entry or of any municipality or territory through which the vessel passed during such voyage . . ." This is the applicable provision and since it does not contain any qualification, we do not qualify the same. The words of Sec. 15(c) being clear, there is no reason to rely on Act 400 in determining its true meaning, regardless of whether said Act was indeed the moving spirit behind it. In fact, it does not seem that the provision of Act 400 was carried into the present rule, as it is now worded.


D E C I S I O N


KAPUNAN, J.:


Petitioner Wenefredo Calme appeals from the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 28883 dated 10 December 1993 and its resolution dated 14 July 1994 upholding the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 12, Oroquieta City over the information for murder filed against him (Calme).

Petitioner and four other persons were accused of killing Edgardo Bernal by allegedly throwing him overboard the M/V "Cebu City," an interisland passenger ship owned and operated by William Lines, Inc., while the vessel was sailing from Ozamis City to Cebu City on the night of 12 May 1991. Petitioner impugned the Oroquieta RTC’s jurisdiction over the offense charged through a motion to quash which, however, was denied by Judge Celso Conol of RTC, Branch 12, Oroquieta City. Petitioner Calme’s petition for certiorari and prohibition was denied due course and dismissed by the Court of Appeals in its decision dated 10 December 1993. Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration of said decision was denied in the Court of Appeal’s resolution of 14 July 1994. Hence, the present appeal wherein the only issue for resolution is whether or not the Oroquieta court has jurisdiction over the offense charged against petitioner.

Petitioner asserts that, although the alleged crime took place while the vessel was in transit, the general rule laid down in par. (a) of Sec. 15 (now Section 14), Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court is the applicable provision in determining the proper venue and jurisdiction and not Sec. 15(c) (now Section 14) thereof since the exact location where the alleged crime occurred was known. 1

Petitioner thus claims that the proper venue is Siquijor because, according to the Marine Protest filed by the vessel’s captain, Elmer Magallanes, the ship was 8.0 miles off Minalonan Point, Siquijor Island, when he (Capt. Magallanes) received the report that "a passenger jumped overboard." 2

Petitioner’s contention is unmeritorious. The exact location where the alleged offense was committed was not duly established. The Marine protest simply adverted that the vessel was within the waters of Siquijor Island when the captain was informed 3 of the incident, which does not necessarily prove that the alleged murder took place in the same area. In any case, where the crime was actually committed is immaterial since it is undisputed that it occurred while the vessel was in transit. "In transit" simply means "on the way or passage; while passing from one person or place to another. In the course of transportation." 4 Hence, undoubtedly, the applicable provision is par. (c) of Sec. 15 (now Section 14), Rule 100 which provides that" (w)here an offense is committed on board a vessel in the course of its voyage, the criminal action may be instituted and tried in the proper court of the first port of entry of any municipality or territory through which the vessel passed during such voyage subject to the generally accepted principles of international law."cralaw virtua1aw library

Petitioner further contends that even if Sec. 15(c), Rule 110 governs, Oroquieta City would still be excluded as a proper venue because the reckoning point for determining the venue under the aforementioned paragraph is the first port of entry or the municipalities/territories through which the ship passed after the discovery of the crime, relying on Act No. 400. 5

We disagree. Obviously, Act No. 400 was amended by Sec. 15(c), Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court in that under the former law, jurisdiction was conferred to the CFI of any province into which the ship or water craft upon which the crime or offense was committed shall come after the commission thereof, while the present rule provides that jurisdiction is vested "in the proper court of the first port of entry or of any municipality or territory through which the vessel passed during such voyage . . ." This is the applicable provision and since it does not contain any qualification, we do not qualify the same. We fully concur with the finding of the Court of Appeals, thus:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

To support his arguments, petitioner relies on Act 400, which according to him is the spirit behind the present Sec. 15(c), Rule 110. The said Act specifically provides, among other things, that for crimes committed within the navigable waters of the Philippine Archipelago, on board a ship or water craft of Philippine registry, jurisdiction may be exercised by the Court of First Instance in any province in which the vessel shall come after the commission of the crime.

Petitioner’s reliance on Act 400 is erroneous. The provision of said Act vesting jurisdiction in the province where the vessel shall come after the commission of the crime is not carried in the present Rule.

x       x       x


It is a basic rule in statutory construction that where the provision of the law or rule is clear and unequivocal, its meaning must be determined from the language employed. It must be given its literal meaning and applied without attempted interpretation (Globe Mackay Cable and Radio Corp. v. NLRC, 206 SCRA [7]01; Pascual v. Pascual-Bautista, 207 SCRA 561).

The words of Sec. 15(c) being clear, there is no reason to rely on Act 400 in determining its true meaning, regardless of whether said Act was indeed the moving spirit behind it. In fact, it does not seem that the provision of Act 400 was carried into the present rule, as it is now worded. 6

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition for review is hereby DENIED.

SO ORDERED.

Padilla, Bellosillo, Vitug and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., concur.

Endnotes:



1. SEC. 15. (now Section 14) Place where action is to be instituted. —

(a) Subject to existing laws, in all criminal prosecutions the action shall be instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or territory wherein the offense was committed or any one of the essential ingredients thereof took place.

(b) Where an offense is committed on a railroad train, in an aircraft, or in any other public or private vehicle while in the course of its trip, the criminal action may be instituted and tried in the court of any municipality or territory where such train, aircraft or other vehicle passed during such trip, including the place of departure and arrival.

(c) Where an offense is committed on board a vessel in the course of its voyage, the criminal action may be instituted and tried in the proper court of the first port of entry or of any municipality or territory through which the vessel passed during such voyage subject to the generally accepted principles of international law.

(d) Other crimes committed outside of the Philippines but punishable therein under Article 2 of the Revised Penal Code shall be cognizable by the proper court in which the charge is first filed. (Emphasis ours.)

2. MARINE PROTEST

Name: ELMER M. MAGALLANES Age: 36 Civil Status: Married

Address: Greenview Village, Maningcol, Ozamis City

Master of: MV CEBU CITY Type/Class: Cargo Passenger

Home Port: Cebu City Registry Number: 6544

Burden Cargo: assorted

Gross Tons: 2,452.29 Net Tons: 1,404.76

After being duly sworn to in accordance with law, do hereby declare and state on protest:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. That on 12 May 1991, the vessel left the port of Ozamis City en route to Cebu City;

2. At around 2343 HRS while the vessel was at longitude 123 degrees 47.1 minutes East and latitude 9 degrees 2.3 minutes north (8.0 miles of[f] Minalonan Point, Siquijor), I was informed by the officer on duty that a passenger jumped overboard; (Emphasis ours.)

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3. Ibid.

4. Black’s Law Dictionary, p. 738.

5. Act No. 400 which took effect on 16 May 1982, provided, among others, that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Section 1. Section fifty-six of Act Numbered One Hundred and thirty-six, entitled: "An act providing for the organization of courts in the Philippine Islands," is hereby amended by adding at the end of said section the following words:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"8. Of all crimes and offenses committed on the high seas or beyond the jurisdiction of any country, or within any of the navigable waters of the Philippine Archipelago, on board a ship or water craft of any kind registered or licensed in the Philippine Islands in accordance with the laws there. The jurisdiction herein conferred may be exercised by the Court of First Instance in any province into which the ship or water craft upon which the crime or offense was committed shall come after the commission thereof: Provided, nevertheless, That the court first lawfully taking cognizance thereof shall have jurisdiction of the same to the exclusion of all other courts in the Philippine Islands.." . .

6. Rollo, pp. 14-15.

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