MARY ROSE A. BOTO v. SENIOR ASSISTANT CITY PROSECUTOR VINCENT L. VILLENA (Septemb (September er 18, 2013, MENDOZA, J.) Boto charged respondents respondents Villena, Manabat and De Dios (City Prosecutors) with gross ignorance of the law for filing the information for libel before the MeTC and for opposing the motion to quash despite the knowledge that the said first level court had no jurisdiction over over the case as the the crime of libel falls falls within, the exclusive jurisdiction of the RTC. Manabat, De Dios, and Villena had all been practicing law for quite a number of years and it would be impossible for them not to know that the crime of libel falls within the jurisdiction of the RTC. Boto asserted that the respondents were all ignorant of the law, whose incompetence was a disgrace not only to the Department of Justice but to the legal profession as a whole. Subsequently, Subsequent ly, the Information was properly filed with the RTC. SC: Boto has valid reasons to file this complaint against the SC: Boto respondents who, being prosecutors, prosecutors, are members of the bar and officers of the court. (Respondents were fined, reprimanded and admonished.) Article 360 of the RPC explicitly explicitly provides that jurisdiction over libel cases are lodged with the RTC. RTC. The criminal and civil action for damages in cases of written defamations shall be filed simultaneously simultaneou sly or separately with the RTC of the province or city where the libelous article is printed and first published or where any of the offended parties actually resides at a t the time of the commission of the offense. offense. ***Note this applies when offended party is a PRIVATE PERSON (In this case, Boto is a private person and not a public officer). As a responsible public servant, a prosecutor's primary duty is not to simply convict but to see that justice is done. He is obliged to perform his duties fairly, consistently and expeditiously, and respect and protect human dignity and uphold human rights in contributing to ensuring due process and the smooth functioning of the criminal justice system. system. As such, he should should not initiate or or continue prosecution,, or shall make every effort to stay the proceedings prosecution when it is apparent that the court has no jurisdiction over the case. As lawyers, the respondents are officers of the court with the duty to uphold its dignity and authority and not promote distrust in the administration of justice. No less than the Code of Professional
Responsibility mandates all lawyers to exert every effort to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice.