Which court has jurisdiction over concubinage case?
"I just want to know which court has jurisdiction when the case to be filed is concubinage. Is it the Municipal Trial Court or the Regional Trial Court?
Article 334 of Revised Penal Code of the Philippines defines the crime of concubinage and mentions the penalties to be imposed upon the persons who may be found be guilty thereof:“Art. 334. Concubinage — Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods.
“The concubine shall suffer the penalty of destierro.”Given that the penalty to the erring husband is that of “prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods” or imprisonment from six months and one day to four years and two months, the jurisdiction rests within the inferior courts, such as the Municipal Trial Court. But since the penalty as to the concubine is destierro, there seems to have been confusion to the effect that the case should be filed before the Regional Trial Court as it exercises jurisdiction over criminal cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal or body. The Supreme Court has clarified this issue and ruled that the crime of concubinage is well-within the jurisdiction of the inferior courts:
“Under the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 (BP Blg. 129), the inferior courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over-all offenses punishable with imprisonment of not exceeding four (4) years and two (2) months [Sec. 32 (2)], while the Regional Trial Courts shall have exclusive original jurisdiction,” in all criminal cases not within the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal or body” [Sec. 20].Ostensibly, Sec. 20 of BP Blg. 129 would grant to the Regional Trial Courts jurisdiction over crimes punishable with destierro, such as concubinage, since destierro is not an offense punishable with imprisonment of not exceeding four (4) years and two (2) months. However, the Court, after a careful reading of BP Blg. 129, is of the considered opinion that there was no intention to overturn the doctrine laid down in Uy Chin Hua vs. Dinglasan and People vs. Santos. It is quite evident that among the important factors considered in the allocation of jurisdiction between the Regional Trial Courts and the inferior courts are the gravity of both the offense and the imposable penalty. It is not, therefore unreasonable to state that the legislature granted to the Regional Trial Courts jurisdiction over crimes whose penalties are harsher than those vested in the inferior courts. And since it is already a settled rule that destierro, by its nature, is a lighter penalty than imprisonment [Uy Chin Hua vs. Dingalasan, supra], it follows that even under the Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, jurisdiction over crimes punishable with destierro is vested not in the Regional Trial Courts but in the inferior courts.“More particularly in this case, the crime of concubinage has two penalties, one for the husband and another for the concubine. The penalty for the husband, prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, which ranges from six (6) months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months, is unquestionably within the jurisdiction of the inferior courts. Considering that Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code states that ‘[t]he offended party [in the crime of concubinage] cannot institute criminal prosecution without including both the guilty parties,’ it is clearly in the interest of the orderly administration of justice that the concubine be tried with the erring husband before the inferior courts. The legislature could not have intended to allow the absurd situation wherein the inferior court has jurisdiction over the crime of concubinage only as regards the husband while the Regional Trial Court has jurisdiction over the same crime with respect to the concubine.(People vs. Hon. Eduarte et al., GR 88232, Feb. 26, 1990, Ponente: former associate justice Irene R. Cortes Emphasis supplied).”
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. This advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to "
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"Which court has jurisdiction over concubinage case?"
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and updated on 16 September 2021