QC court dismisses case vs WellMed officials for ‘lack of jurisdiction’
MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) dismissed on a technicality the case for estafa in relation to falsification of public documents filed against the owner and officers of WellMed Dialysis and Laboratory Center who were accused of getting payment claims for “ghost dialysis” sessions from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.
In a 14-page decision, the Quezon City RTC Branch 219 dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, saying the information should have been filed before a Metropolitan Trial Court since the offenses involved only carried a maximum jail term of six years.
“These cases are DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction over the offenses charged without prejudice to refiling before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City,” QCRTC Branch 219 Presiding Judge Janet Abergos-Samar said.
Abergos-Samar explained that the amount involved in the case is ranging only from P5,200 to P39,000 of which the penalty, under the Revised Penal Code, only ranges from 2 months and 1 day to six months while falsification of the public document only carries a maximum penalty of six years.
Under the law, the court explained that the determining factor in considering jurisdiction is the most serious offense which in this case is the falsification of public document.
“Offenses punishable with imprisonment NOT exceeding 6 years pertain to the first level courts,” read the resolution.
The Court clarified that the dismissal of the case “has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of the accused.”
“The cases are dismissed because based on the crime charged in the Information (charge sheet) and the applicable penalty, it is not the Regional Trial Court which has jurisdiction to hear and decide the cases but the first level courts or the Metropolitan Trial Courts,” she added.
“The accused may still be prosecuted, and the cases may still be filed, before the said courts notwithstanding the dismissal decreed herein,” she added.
In her August 5 ruling, she granted the motion to quash in all 17 cases of estafa through falsification of public and/or official documents.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the Department of Justice (DOJ) would refile the case.
“We will re-file, if not yet refiled. That’s the reason why the prosecution moved to withdraw the Information in the first place,” he told reporters.
The government prosecutors moved to withdraw the case before the Court. However, the Court in the same ruling said the explanation provided by the prosecutor is inadequate.