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Hierarchy of Courts-Group 4

Hierarchy of Philippine Courts
(And their Jurisdictions)
The judicial System of the Philippines provides courts both of law and equity which have
jurisdiction over all civil, criminal and probate cases unlike those courts in other countries.
The Final Arbiter: The Supreme Court
The supreme law of the land decrees that the judicial power be vested in one Supreme Court and
such lower courts as may be established by law. [Section 1, Art. VIII, 1987 Constitution). Thus the
Supreme Court of the Philippines composed of 14 Associate Justices and one Chief Justice is
Seated in division or en banc the Supreme Court is duty bound to adjudicate on actual
controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine
whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government; the latter obligation
being unique to the 1987 Constitution.
Section 5 of Article VIII of our present constitution declares the powers of the Supreme Court.
Paragraph 2 of the same Article and section provides for the court’s authority to:
Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on appeal or certiorari, as the law or the Rules of
Court may provide, final judgments and orders of lower courts in:
1. All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty, international or
executive agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, instruction,
ordinance, or regulation is in question.
2. All cases involving the legality of any tax, impost, assessment, or toll, or any penalty
imposed in relation thereto.
3. All cases in which
4. the jurisdiction of any lower court is in issue.
5. All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion perpetua or higher.
6. All cases in which only an error or question of law is involved.
Thus the Supreme Court is the court of last resort for its decisions are final: doctrines established
through jurisprudence either by the court sitting en banc or in division can only be reversed by
the same court seated en banc.
“The Supreme Court is final not because it is right, but rather it is right because it is final”
The Courts as Provided for by Law
Batas Pambansa 129, also known as Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980 established the four
levels of the Philippine Judicial Courts.
Appelate Courts:The Court of Appeals
Composed of a Presiding Justice and sixty eight Associate Justices, the CA is vested with general
appellate jurisdiction over the decisions of the Regional Trial Courts and specific quasi-judicial
agencies, boards or commissions as provided for in Rule 40-43 of the 1997 Rules of Procedures,
National Amnesty Commission, the Ombudsman and the National Labor Relation Commission.
The justices sit in divisions composed of three members, where a unanimous determination is
required for a decision otherwise two additional justices will sit temporarily with them forming a
special division of five and the majority shall be necessary of a decision.
Special Appellate Courts
Court of Tax Appeals
A special collegiate court, created by RA 1125 (as amended by RA 9282,) the Court
of Tax Appeals is composed of a Presiding Judge and 5 Associate Judges vested
with the exclusive appellate jurisdiction over appeals from the decisions of the
Commissioner of Internal Revenue and the Commissioner of Customs on civil and
criminal tax cases filed by private persons.
The CTA has authority toto review by appeal the following:
1. Decisions of the Commissioner of the 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 the law
administered by the BIR;
2. Decisions of the Commissioner of Customs in cases involving liability for
custom duties, fees or other money charges; seizures, detentions or
release of property affected; fines, forfeitures or other penalties imposed
in relation thereto; or other matters arising under the Custom Law or other
law or part of law administered by the Bureau of Customs;
3. Decisions of the Secretary of Finance, such as in the imposition of dumping
or countervailing duty, and in automatic review, cases where such decision
of the Secretary of Finance is adverse to the taxpayer.
A special Graft court, the Sandiganbayan, composed of a Presiding Justice and 14
Associate Justices, has exclusive jurisdiction over violations of the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act [Republic Act No. 3019], the Unexplained Wealth Act
[Republic Act No. 1379] and other crimes or felonies committed by public officials
and employees in relation to their office, including those employees in
government-owned or controlled corporations.
Presidential Decree 1606 (as amended by RA 7975 and RA 8249,) Sandiganbayan
exercises exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving:
1. Violations of RA 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
corrupt Practices Act, RA 1379 and Chapter II, Sec 2, Title VII, Book II of the
RPC, where one or more of the accused are officials occupying the following
positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim
capacity, at the time of the commission of the offense;
Officials of executive branch occupying the positions of regional
director and higher otherwise classified as grade “27” and higher,
of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989;
Members of Congress and officials thereof as grade “27” and up
under the Compensation and position clarification Act 0f 1989;
Members of the Judiciary with out prejudice to the provisions of
the Chairman and members of the Constitutional Commissions
with out prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution and
All other national and local officials classified as grade “27” and
higher under the compensation and Position Classification Act.
2. Violations of the law on Plunder and Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001
committed by the aforementioned public officials and employees in relation
to their office;
3. Other offenses and felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes
committed by the aforementioned public officials and employees in relation
to their office;
4. Civil and Criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with EO 1, 2, 14
and 14-A issued in 1986;
5. Petition for the issuance of writs of mandamus, certiorari, habeas corpus,
injunction and other ancillary writs and processes in aid of its appellate
jurisdiction and over petitions of similar in nature, including quo warranto,
that may arise in cases filed under EO 1, 2, 14, 14-A issued in 1986: Provided,
that the jurisdiction over these petitions shal not be exclusive of the Supreme
Courts of General Jurisdiction: REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS
Formerly known as the Court of First Instances (CFI) Regional Trial Courts were established among
the thirteen regions in the Philippines consisting of Regions I to XII and the National Capital
Region (NCR). There are as many Regional Trial Courts in each region as the law mandates.
These courts have authority to try cases, without limitations as to the issue or monetary
restrictions, to which Municipal, Metropolitan and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts are subjected
to. Thus Civil claims or Criminal prosecutions which involves an amount of money or a potential
criminal sentence, beyond the jurisdiction of Municipal, Metropolitan and Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts must be filed and heard in this Court.
R.A. 7961 expands the Regional Trial Courts exercise of exclusive original jurisdiction in civil
Actions in which the subject of litigation is incapable of Pecuniary estimation;
Actions which involves the title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest
therein, where the assessed value of the property involved exceeds twenty thousand pesos, or
for civil actions in Metro Manila, where such value exceeds fifty thousand pesos, except actions
for forcible entry and unlawful detainer;
Actions in admiralty and maritime jurisdiction where the demand or claim exceeds two
hundred thousand pesos or, in Metro Manila four hundred thousand pesos;
Matters of probate, both testate and intestate, where the gross value of the estate
exceeds two hundred thousand pesos or in Metro Manila four hundred thousand pesos;
Actions involving the contract of marriage and marital relations (now under the
jurisdiction of the Family Court);
Cases not with in the exclusive jurisdiction of any court, tribunal, person or body
exercising judicial or quasi judicial functions;
Civil actions and special proceedings falling with in the exclusive original jurisdiction of
the Juvenile and domestic relation court (now Family Court)
Other cases in which the demand, exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind,
attorney’s fees, litigation expense and costs, or the value of the property in controversy
exceeds to hundred thousand pesos or, in such other cases in Metro Manila, where the
demand, exclusive of the abovementioned items exceeds four hundred thousand pesos.
However, in cases where the claim for damages is the main cause of action, or one of the
causes of action, the amount of such claim shall be considered in determining the jurisdiction of
the court.
The Muslim Courts: The Shari'a
PD 1083 recognizes the legal system of the Muslims in the Philippines as part of the law of the
land and seeks to make Islamic institutions more effective. The Sharia’s Courts under the Muslim
code are equivalent to the Municipal Circuit Trial Courts with Jurisdiction over Muslim Filipinos
in Mindanao. Equivalent to the Regional Trial Courts in rank are the Shari'a District Courts which
were established in certain specified provinces in Mindanao where the Muslim Code on Personal
Laws is being enforced.
Courts of Limited Jurisdiction: Municipal and City Courts
Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts
Municipalities in the Philippines have their own Municipal Trial Court, which try cases
limited to civil suits involving relatively smaller amounts of money and minor violations of
criminal laws. Labeled as “inferior courts”, they hears and adjudicate most of the controversies
that occur in the Community and these are the courts closest to the people.
They are referred to as Municipal Trial Court (MTC) if one covers only one municipality;
otherwise, it is called Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) if it covers two or more municipalities.
Municipal Trial Courts in the towns and cities in the Metropolitan Manila area, as distinguished
from the other political subdivisions in the Philippines, are referred to as Metropolitan Trial
Courts (MeTC).
The equivalent of the Municipal Trial Courts in cities outside Metropolitan Manila is referred to
as Municipal Trial Courts in Cities (MTCC).