We find that, having squarely raised the matter in its Rule 65 petition for certiorari and prohibition docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 111153, HGC correctly faults the CA for not finding that Branch 24 of the Manila RTC had no authority to order the transfer of the case to respondent RTC. Being outside the jurisdiction of Special Commercial Courts, the rule is settled that cases which are civil in nature, like the one commenced by R-II Builders, should be threshed out in a regular court. With its acknowledged lack of jurisdiction over the case, Branch 24 of the Manila RTC should have ordered the dismissal of the complaint, since a court without subject matter jurisdiction cannot transfer the case to another court. Instead, it should have simply ordered the dismissal of the complaint, considering that the affirmative defenses for which HGC sought hearing included its lack of jurisdiction over the case.
Calleja v. Panday, while on facts the other way around, i.e., a branch of the RTC exercising jurisdiction over a subject matter within theSpecial Commercial Court’s authority, dealt squarely with the issue:
Whether a branch of the Regional Trial Court which has no jurisdiction to try and decide a case has authority to remand the same to another co-equal Court in order to cure the defects on venue and jurisdiction.
Calleja ruled on the issue, thus:
Such being the case, RTC Br. 58 did not have the requisite authority or power to order the transfer of the case to another branch of the Regional Trial Court. The only action that RTC-Br. 58 could take on the matter was to dismiss the petition for lack of jurisdiction.