Wednesday, 12 Aug 2020

FIRST LEVEL COURTS (FLC’s), SECOND LEVEL COURTS, Family Courts, Sandiganbayan (SB) and the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), Military Courts

FIRST LEVEL COURTS (FLC’s), SECOND LEVEL COURTS, Family Courts, Sandiganbayan (SB) and the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA), Military Courts



Legal Basis

  • The Philippine Constitution of 1935, 1973, 1987 vested judicial in one Supreme Court ad in such lower courts as maybe established by law.
  • Batas Pambansa Blg 129 (august 14 1981, Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, created first level courts) metropolitan trial courts or (METCs) established in Metropolitan Manila, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities (MTCCs) outside Metropolitan Manila, Municipal Trial Courts or (MTCs) in each of the other cities or municipalities, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts or MCTCs in each circuit comprising such cities and/or municipalities as grouped by law and second-level courts [Regional Trial Court ( RTCs) established in each 13 regions in the Philippines].
  • Presidential Decree No. 1083 ( Feb 4 1997) established Shari’a Courts in Islamic regions and provinces to interpret and apply the Code of Muslim personal Laws, with Shari’a Circuit Courts (SCC) and the Shari’a District Courts then (SDCs), at the same level that Municipal Circuit Trial Courts (MCTCs) and Regional Trial Courts (RTCs), respectively.
  • Mandate

The Supreme Court of the Philippines and The Lower Courts perform adjudicative functions vested on them by the Philippine constitution and other applicable laws. Their judicial power includes “the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, into determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or excess of jurisdiction of the part of any branch or instrumentality of the government”.



Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled

Section 1. Title– This Act shall be known as the “Family Courts Act of 1997”.

Section 2. Statement of National Policies – The State shall protect the rights and promote the welfare of children in keeping with the mandate of the Constitution and the precepts of the United Nations Convention on the rights or the Child. The State shall provide a system of adjudication for youthful offenders which takes into account their peculiar circumstances.

The State Recognize Sanctity of Family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. The courts shall preserve the solidarity of the family, provide procedures for the reconciliation of spouses and the amicable settlement of family controversy.

Section 3. Establishment of Family Courts- There shall be established of family court and every province and city in the country. In case where the city is the capital of province, the family court shall be established in the municipality which has the highest population.

Section 4. Qualification and Training of Family Court Judges – Sec. 15 of Batas Pambansa Blg 129, as amended is hereby further amended to read follows.

Section 5. Jurisdiction of family Courts- the Family Courts have shall exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and decide the following cases.

  1. Criminal cases where one or more of the accused is below eighteen (18) years of age bit not less than nine (9) years of age but not less than 9 years of age or where one or more victims is a minor at the time of the commission of the offense. Provided, that the minor is found guilty, the court shall promulgate sentence and ascertain any civil liability which the accused may be incurred.
  2. Petitions for guardianship, custody of children, habeas corpus in relation to the latter,
  3. Petitions for adoption of children and the revocation thereof.
  4. Complaints for annulment of marriage, declaration of nullity of marriage to those relating to marital status and property relation of husband and wife or those living together under different status and agreements and petition for dissolution of conjugal partnership of gains.
  5. Petition for support and/or acknowledgement;
  6. Summary judicial proceedings brought under the provisions of executive order no. 209 otherwise known as the “Family Code of the Philippines”

Section 6. Use of Income – All Family Courts shall be allowed the use of ten percent (10%) of their income derived from filling and other court fees under 141 of the Rules of Court for research and other operating expenses including capital outlay.

Section 7. Special Provisional Remedies – in cases of violence among immediate family members living in the same domicile or household, the Family Court may issue a restraining order against the accused of defendant upon verified application by the complainant or the victim for relief from abuse.

Section 8. Supervision of Youth Detention Homes – The judge of the Family Court shall have direct control and supervision of the youth detention home which the local government until establish to separate the youth offenders from adult criminals: provided, however, the alternative to detention and institutional care shall be made available to the accused including counseling, recognizance, bail, community continuum, or diversions from the justice system: provided, further, That the human rights of accused  are fully respected in a manner appreciate to their well-being.

Section 9. Social Services and Counseling Division. – Under the guidance of the office Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), a Social Services and Counseling Division (SSCD) shall be established in each judicial such jurisdiction. It shall provide appropriate social services to all juvenile and family cases filed with court and recommend the proper social action. It shall also develop programs, formulate uniform policies and procedures, and provide technical supervision and monitoring of all SSCD in coordination with judge.

Section 10. Social Services and Counseling Division Staff- the SSCD shall have a staff composed of qualified social workers and other personnel with academic preparation in behavioral sciences to carry out the duties of conducting intake assessment, social case studies, casework and counselling, and other social services that may be needed in connection with cases filed the court.

Section 11. Alternative Social Services – in accordance with sec. 17 of this Act, in areas where no Family Court has been established or no Regional Trial Court was designated by the Supreme Court due to the limited number of cases, the DSWD shall designate and assign qualified, trained, and DSWD accredited social workers of the local government units to handle juvenile and family cases filed in the designated Regional Trial Court of the place.

Section 12. Privacy and Confidentiality of Proceedings. – All hearings and conciliation of the child and family cases shall be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s and the family dignity and worth, and shall respect their privacy at all stages of the proceedings.

Section 13. Special Rules of Procedure. – The Supreme Court shall promulgate special rule of procedure for the transfer of cases to the courts during the transition period and for the disposition of the family cases with the best interests of the child and the protection of the family as primary consideration taking into account the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child.

Section 14. Appeals. – Decisions and orders of the court shall be appealed I the same manner and subject to the same conditions as appeals from ordinary Regional Trial Courts.

Section 15. Appropriation. –  The amount necessary to carry out the provisions of this act shall be included in the General Appropriation Act of the year following in its enactment into law and thereafter.

Section 16. Implementing Rules and Regulations. – The Supreme Court, in coordination with the DSWD, shall formulate the necessary rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the social aspects of this Act.

Section 17. Transitory Provisions. – Pending the establishment of such Family Courts, the Supreme Court shall designate from among the branches of the Regional Trial Court atleast one Family Court in each of the cities of Manila, Quezon, Pasay, Caloocan, Makati, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Muntinlupa and other place as the Supreme Court may deem necessary.

Section 18. Reparability Clause. –  In case any provision of this Act is declared unconstitutional, the other provisions shall remain in effect.

Section 19. Repeating Clause. – All the laws, decrees, executive orders, rules or regulations inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed, amended or modified accordingly.

Section 20. Effectively. – This Act shall take effect 15 days after its publication in atleast national newspapers of general circulation.

Approved October 28, 1997.


Creation, Elevation and Expansion

The Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) was created on June 16, 1954, through the enactment of Republic Act No. 1125 (R.A 1125). Considering its limited jurisdiction then, it had only 3 Judges, which at present is equivalent to 1 Division.

With the passage of Republic Act Number 9282 (R.A. 9282) on April 23 2004, the CTA became an appellate Court, equal is rank to the Court Appeals. The composition of the Court increased to 6 justice with one Presiding Justice and 5 Associate Justices.

It shall sit En Banc, or 2 Divisions with 3 Justice each. A decision of a division of the CTA may be appealed to the CTA En Banc, and the latters, decision may further be appealed by verified petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court.

Expanded Jurisdiction

Through in enactment of Republic Act No. 9282. The Jurisdiction of the CTA has been expanded to include not only civil tax cases but also cases that are criminal in nature, as well as local tax cases, property taxes and final collection of taxes.

Pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 1125 and other laws prior to R.A 9282, the Court of Tax Appeals retains exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review by appeal, the following: 

  1. Decisions of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in cases involving disputed assessment, refunds of internal revenue taxes, fees or other charges, penalties imposed in relation thereto, or other matters arising under the National Internal Revenue Code or other law or part of law administered by the Bureau of Internal revenue.
  2. Decisions of the Commissioner of Customs in cases involving liability for customs duties, fees or other money charges; seizure, detention or release of property affected; fines, forfeitures or other penalties imposed in relation thereto; or other matters arising under the Customs.
  3. In automatic review cases where such decisions of the Commission of Customs favorable to the taxpayer is elevated to the Secretary of Finance (Sec.2315,TTC);
  4. Decisions of the Secretary of Trade and Industry, in the case of non-agricultural product, commodity or article, or the Secretary of Agriculture, in the case of Agricultural product, commodity or article, in connection with the imposition of the Anti-Dumping Duty, Countervailing and safeguard Duty [Republic Act Nos. 8751 and 8752, (1999) Sec. 301 (a) and (p), and Republic Act 8800].

Under Republic Act Number 9282, the CTA’s original appellate jurisdiction was expanded to include the following:

  1. Criminal cases involving violations of the National Internal Revenue Code and the Tariff and Customs Code;
  2. Decisions of the Regional Trial Courts (RTC) in local tax cases;
  3. Decisions of the Central Board of Assessment Appeals (CBAA) in cases involving the assessment and taxation of real property;
  4. Collection of internal revenue taxes and customs duties the assessment of which have already become final.

Sandiganbayan (SB)

The jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan is perhaps one of the most often amended provision from the 1973 Constitution to RA 8249 of 1997. Before RA 8249 jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan was determined on the basis of the penalty imposable on the offence charged. Then it was amended such as regardless of the penalty, so long is the offense charged was committed public officer, the Sandiganbayan was vested with jurisdiction. Under RA 8249, to determine whether the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction, lawyers must look into 2 criteria, namely:

The nature of the offense and the salary grade of the public official.

Thus, Sec 4 of RA 8249 provides that Sandiganbayan shall have original exclusive jurisdiction over.

  1. Violation of RA 3019 (Anti-graft and Corrupt Practice law);
  2. RA 1379 (Forfeiture of Illegally Acquired Wealth);
  3. Crimes by public officers or employees embraced. In Ch. II Sec 2 Title VII, Bk. II of the RPC (Crimes committed by Public Officers) namely:
  4. Direct Bribery under Art. 210 as amended by BP 871, May 29, 1985
  5. Indirect Bribery under Art 211 as amended by BP 871 May 21, 1985
  6. Qualified Bribery under Art 211-A as amended by RA 7659, Dec 13, 1993
  7. Corruption of public officials under Art. 212


Article I, the Constitutions gives Congress the power to “make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.” Congress has ling employed this power to authorize courts martial to enforce discipline and punish crimes within the military ranks. As part of the military command structure, courts martial proceedings do not have the same procedural safeguards and civilian courts. An 1859 decision of Supreme Court of the United States and as such were not federal courts established under Article III of the Constitution. These same attributes of the military tribunals made the extension of their power to civilians controversial, and an 1865 Supreme Court decision held military tribunals could not try civilians where Article III courts were operation.

During the second half of the twentieth century, Congress revised the composition and makeup of the military justice system to increase procedural safeguards without altering the distinctive character of the courts. In 1950, for instance, Congress established the Uniform Code of the Military Justice and, with it the court of Military Appeals (renamed the United States Court of military appeals in 1968 [82 Stat. 176].

Image: Photo by Emily from Pexels


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