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Arula v.

Espino

Facts: Arula and other recruits of Capt. Facelo of AFP was taken to Corregidor Island to
undergo training. A shooting incident occurred at Corregidor resulting in the infliction of
serious physical injuries upon Arula. Despite his wounds, he succeeded in fleeing
Corregidor. He filed a criminal complaint with the city fiscal of Cavite City. On the other
hand, a general court-martial has been convened to try the case against the army
personnel involved in the Corregidor incident. The Armed Forces lawyers now moved to
dismiss the complaint filed with the city fiscal of Cavite upon the ground that the civil
courts had lost jurisdiction over the case because a court-martial had been convened.

Issue: Whether or not the general court-martial has jurisdiction over the case

Ruling: The rule accords to the court first acquiring jurisdiction over the person of the
accused by the filing of charges and having him in custody the preferential right to
proceed with the trial.

Well-known is the rule that when several courts have concurrent jurisdiction of the same
offense, the court first acquiring jurisdiction of the prosecution retains to it the exclusion
of the others. This rule, however, requires that jurisdiction over the person of the
defendant shall have first been obtained by the court in which the first charge was field.

No indictment has yet been filed with the CFI of Cavite, the same being merely in the
preliminary investigation phase. The mere filing of a complaint with the prosecuting
fiscal cannot have parity with the filing of such complaint with the court. Even if there
could be such parity, it is not the mere filing of the complaint or information but the
actual taking into custody of the accused under the process of one court or the other. The
general court-martial acquired jurisdiction not only because of filing the charges but also
because it first acquired custody or jurisdiction of the persons of the accused.