Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 14

Republic of the Philippines

COURT OF APPEALS
Manila

Special Fourth Division

AC ENTERPRISES, INC., Petitioner,

CA-G.R. SP No. 82166 Members:

-Versus

LABITORIA, Chairman, DE GUIA SALVADOR, and, VICENTE, JJ.

HON. BENJAMIN ANTONIO in His capacity as Presiding Judge of Branch 170, Regional Trial Court, Promulgated: Malabon City, FRABELLE PROPERTIES CORPORATION, Respondents. SEPTEMBER 21, 2004 X---------------------------------------------x

DECISION
LABITORIA, J.:

This petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court seeks to nullify and set aside the Orders1 dated 15 September 2003 and 03 December 2003, and to prohibit the
1

Vice Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes, who is on leave. pp. 39, 44, Rollo

CA-G.R. SP No. 82166 DECISION

public respondent judge from conducting further proceedings in Civil Case No. 3745-MN entitled Frabelle Properties Corp. vs. AC Enterprises, Inc. Petitioner AC Enterprises, Inc. is the owner and operator of the Feliza Building, a ten-story office building, which is located at Herrera Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City. The building operates a central air-conditioning system with blowers servicing the same. The blowers are located at the rear portion of the airconditioning units, with four blowers on each floor, which are divided into groups of two for each floor. Upon the other hand, private respondent Frabelle Properties Corp. is the developer of Frabella 1, a twenty nine-story condominium, which is situated right across a narrow street from Feliza Building. According to private respondent Frabelle Properties Corp., these blowers are pointed towards its building, which creates and unbearable vibrating noise and blasts a continuing stream of hot air towards Frabella 1 Condominium affecting the tenants thereof. Consequently, private respondent instituted a complaint for Abatement of Nuisance with Damages with Prayer for Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction against herein petitioner before the Regional Trial Court of Malabon, which was docketed as Civil Case No. 3745-MN.

CA-G.R. SP No. 82166 DECISION

Summons was served on petitioner directing it to file its answer to the complaint. Also, petitioner was served a notice to appear for hearing on the application for the writ of preliminary injunction prayed for in the complaint.2 Instead of filing its answer, petitioner filed its Motion to Dismiss3 the complaint filed by private respondent Frabelle Properties Corp. and the application for preliminary injunction based on the following grounds: a) the court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint; b) the complaint is barred by prior judgment or res judicata; c) the complaint is barred by litis pendentia; d) complainant is guilty of forum-shopping; and e) lack of cause of action. After the filing of their respective position papers, public respondent judge issued the assailed Order4 denying petitioners Motion to Dismiss and application for preliminary injunction, the decretal portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, the Motion to Dismiss and application for preliminary injunction are hereby denied for lack of merit. SO ORDERED.5

2 3

p. 54, Rollo p. 55, Rollo 4 supra 5 p. 43, Rollo

CA-G.R. SP No. 82166 DECISION

Not satisfied, petitioner filed its Motion for Reconsideration,6 which the public respondent Judge denied in its assailed Order.7 Hence, petitioner filed this instant petition8 raising the following grounds, to wit:
THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT ACTED WITHOUT JURISDICTION, OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION SO GRAVE AS TO LOSE JURISDICTION IN CIVIL CASE NO. 03-3745-MN CONSIDERING THAT: A. THE HONORABLE COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE COMPLAINT. JURISDICTION IS VESTED WITH THE MAKATI CITY GOVERNMENT, THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT CONCERNED. B. THE COMPLAINT IS BARRED BY RES JUDICATA. THE MAKATI CITY GOVERNMENT HAS ALREADY DECIDED A COMPLAINT FILED BY FRABELLE. FRABELLE DID NOT ELEVATE THE SAME ON APPEAL, OR IN ANY WAY QUESTION SUCH DECISION. THUS, THE DECISION BY THE MAKATI CITY GOVERNMENT IS NOW FINAL AND EXECUTORY. C. AT THE TIME THE COMPLAINT WAS FILED, IT WAS BARRED BY LITIS PENDENTIA. A SIMILAR ACTION WAS PENDING WITH THE POLLUTIONS ADJUDICATION BOARD (PAB) WHICH SUBSEQUENTLY FOUND NO LIABILITY ON THE PART OF AC. FRABELLE IS CLEARLY AND UNDENIABLY GUILTY OF FORUM-SHOPPING. D. PLAINTIFF FRABELLE HAS NO CAUSE OF ACTION AND THE COMPLAINT FAILS TO
6 7

p. 94, Rollo supra 8 p. 2, Rollo

CA-G.R. SP No. 82166 DECISION

STATE A CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST AC ENTERPRISES. 9

As a preliminary, the petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by herein petitioner is not the proper remedy to question public respondent judges denial of its motion to dismiss in Civil Case No. 3745-MN. Public respondent judges denial of its motion to dismiss in the assailed Orders10 is merely interlocutory. An interlocutory order does not terminate nor finally dispose of the case, but leaves something to be done by the court before the case is finally decided on the merits.11 It is always under the control of the court and may be modified or rescinded upon sufficient grounds shown at any time before judgment.12 This proceeds from the courts inherent power to control its process and orders so as to make them conformable to law and justice. The only limitation is that the judge cannot act with grave abuse of discretion, or that no injustice results thereby.13 not present in this case. This limitation is

Petitioner contends that jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint is lodged with the City Government of Makati by virtue of Republic Act No. 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991)

pp. 11-12, Rollo supra 11 Philgreen Trading Construction Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 271 SCRA 719 12 Ley Construction and Development Corp. vs. Union Bank of the Philippines, 334 SCRA 443 13 ibid.
9 10

CA-G.R. SP No. 82166 DECISION

which provides for the devolution of the powers of national agencies or offices to local government units, viz:
Section 17. Basic Services and Facilities. xxx (e) National agencies or offices concerned shall devolve to local government units the responsibility for the provision of basic services and facilities enumerated in this Section within six (6) months after the effectivity of this Code. As used in this Code, the term devolution refers to the act by which the National Government confers power and authority upon the various local government units to perform specific functions and responsibilities. xxx xxx xxx

(b) Such services and facilities include, but are not limited to, the following: (3) For a Province: xxx (iii) Pursuant to national policies and subject to supervision, control and review of the DENR, enforcement of forestry laws limited to community-based forestry projects, pollution control law xxx xxx

(4) For a City:

CA-G.R. SP No. 82166 DECISION

All the services and facilities of the municipality and province, and in addition thereto, the following: xxx 14

Corollarily, petitioner further contends that Administrative Order No. 30 issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) devolved to the local government unit the following:

Section 3. Devolved Functions, Programs and Projects. Pursuant to Section 17 of the Code and subject to the provisions herein, particularly the policies enunciated in Sec. 1, above, the following functions, programs and projects of the DENR are hereby devolved to the concerned LGUs: xxx

3.3 Environmental Management xxx (a) Enforcement of the following pollution control and environmental protection laws, rules and regulations: xxx (c) Abatement of noise and other forms of nuisance as defined by law; and

14

pp. 13-14, Rollo

CA-G.R. SP No. 82166 DECISION

(d) Implementation of Cease and Desist Orders issued by the Pollution and Adjudication Board. xxx15

In traversing petitioners contention, private respondent argues that R.A. 7160 refers to pollution control but not to the abatement of a nuisance, and while Administrative Order No. 30 of the DENR devolved to the local government unit the functions of abatement of notice and other forms of nuisance defined by law, the same, however, is not a law hence Administrative Order No. 30 cannot deprive the lower court of its jurisdiction over the case.

The court agrees with the private respondent. Nowhere in the provisions of RA 7160 would specifically point out that cases of abatement of nuisance is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the local government units. The cited provisions of RA 7160 clearly refer to the enforcement of pollution control law and not to complaints involving the abatement of a nuisance. While Administrative Order No. 30 of the DENR devolved to local government units the abatement of noise and other forms of nuisance defined by law, this does not necessarily deprive the courts to hear and decide cases involving abatement of nuisances. As alleged to by private respondent in its complaint,
15

pp. 14-15, Rollo

CA-G.R. SP No. 82166 DECISION

it had already sought the intercession of the following offices: (1) Barangay San Lorenzo, (2) Makati Commercial (5) Estate Association, Inc. (MACEA), (3) Metro Manila Development Authority, (4) Office, and Makati City Government, (6) Department of Makati Pollution Natural Environment and

Resources.16 Thus, it is but proper for private respondent to bring its case before the courts of law. While the doctrine of primary jurisdiction does not warrant a court to arrogate unto itself the authority to resolve a controversy the jurisdiction over which is initially lodged with an administrative body of special competence,17 the court can take cognizance of the case when the issues raised involved a question of law. It bears stressing that the filing of its Motion to Dismiss, petitioner has hypothetically admitted the factual allegations in private respondents complaint. The rule is that a defendant moving to dismiss a complaint on the ground of lack of cause of action is regarded as having hypothetically admitted all the averments thereof.18 Hence, what is left for the court to adjudicate is the application of the laws that deals with nuisance. Significantly, the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies need not be adhered to when the question is purely legal. As held in the case of Castro vs. Gloria,19 the Supreme Court ruled that, where the case involves only legal question, the
p. 39, Rollo Negros Oriental Electric Cooperative 1 vs. Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment, 357 SCRA 668 18 Consolidated Bank and Trust Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 197 SCRA 663 19 363 SCRA 417
16 17

CA-G.R. SP No. 82166 DECISION

10

litigant need not exhaust all administrative remedies before such judicial relief can be sought. This is because issues of law cannot be resolved with finality by the administrative officer.20 Contrary to petitioners contention, the filing of Civil Case No. 3745-MN is not barred by res judicata. Res judicata exists when the following elements are present: (a) the former judgment must be final; (b) the court which rendered the judgment had jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter; (c) it must be a judgment on the merits; (d) and there must be between the first and second actions identity of parties, subject matter, and cause of action.21 The first element is not present. Judgment as defined in Blacks Law Dictionary22 is the official and authentic decision of a court of justice upon the respective rights and claim of the parties to an action or suit therein litigated and submitted to its determination. This presupposes an adversarial proceeding or in administrative bodies exercising quasi-judicial functions, the submission of relevant evidence and position papers. In this case, the judgment or decision adverted to by petitioner was only a letter of City Engineer Morales in response to petitioners complaint. No adversarial proceedings or the submission of evidence and position papers took place before the Office of the City Engineer. At best, the letter of City Engineer Morales with regard to private respondents complaint is only an exercise of the city governments administrative powers and not in the exercise of its judicial or quasi-judicial functions. For one, City Engineer Morales
20 21

ibid. Avisado vs. Rumbaua, 354 SCRA 245 22 p. 755, 5th ed.

CA-G.R. SP No. 82166 DECISION

11

does not exercise judicial functions. quasi-judicial functions.

Neither does he exercise

Quasi-judicial function is defined as a

term which applies to the actions, discretion, etc. of public administrative officers or bodies, who are required to investigate facts, or ascertain the existence of facts, hold hearings, and draw conclusions from them, as a basis for their official action and to exercise discretion of judicial nature.23 before the Office of the City Engineer. As already stated, no adversarial proceedings took place or hearings were conducted

Also, private respondents filing of the complaint before the Regional Trial Court of Malabon is not barred by litis pendentia. For litis pendentia to be invoked the concurrence of the following requisites is necessary: (a) identity of parties; (b) identity of rights asserted and relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts; and (c) the identity in the two cases should be such that the judgment may be rendered in one would regardless of which party is successful, amount to res judicata in the other.24 It is worthy to note that the complaint filed before the Pollution Adjudication Board was initiated by the Frabella 1 Condominium Corporation as complainant against herein petitioner, while the case pending before the Regional Trial Court of Malabon was filed by private respondent Frabelle Properties Corporation. Obviously, there is no identity of parties between those filed before the Pollution Adjudication Board and the Regional Trial Court. The
United Residents of Dominican Hill, Inc. vs. Commission on the Settlement of Land Problems, 353 SCRA 782 24 Feliciano vs. Court of Appeals, 287 SCRA 61
23

CA-G.R. SP No. 82166 DECISION

12

Frabella 1 Condominium Corporation has a personality of its own which is separate and distinct from that of private respondent Frabelle Properties Corporation. As a juridical entity, it has the power to sue and be sued. Thus, there is no litis pendentia to speak of when the requirement of identity of parties is lacking.

In line with this, where the elements of litis pendentia are not present or where a final judgment in one case will not amount to res judicata in the other, there is no forum-shopping.25

With

respect

to

petitioners

assertion

that

private

respondents complaint states no cause

of action, the same

is without merit. A cause of action is the act or omission by which a party violates a right of another. A cause of action exists if the following elements are present: (1) a right in favor of the plaintiff by whatever means and under whatever law it arises or is created; (2) an obligation on the part of the named defendant to respect or not to violate such right; and (3) an act or omission on the part of such defendant violative of the right of the plaintiff or constituting a breach of the obligation of defendant to the plaintiff for which the latter may maintain an action for recovery of damages.26 The foregoing elements are present in this case. Due to the unbearable noise and hot air allegedly caused by the blowers installed at petitioners building, private respondents tenants have been complaining, forcing them to vacate their units
25 26

Bangko Silangan Development Bank vs. Court of Appeals, 360 SCRA 323 Drilon vs. Court of Appeals, 357 SCRA 12

CA-G.R. SP No. 82166 DECISION

13

while others refused to pay their rent and threatened to sue herein petitioner because of the unabated nuisance. Private respondent, in order to avert future business losses, has the right to abate this nuisance. On the other hand, petitioner allegedly refused to abate the said nuisance. Thus, private respondent, as in this case, may file an action to protect its property and proprietary rights. Prescinding from all of the foregoing, the court could not ascribe grave abuse of discretion on the part of the public respondent in issuing the assailed Orders.27

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is


DISMISSED for lack of merit. Accordingly, the dismissal of the petition rendered the application for a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction moot and academic. SO ORDERED.

EUGENIO S. LABITORIA Associate Justice WE CONCUR:

REBECCA DE GUIA-SALVADOR Associate Justice

27

supra

CA-G.R. SP No. 82166 DECISION

14

ROSALINDA ASUNCION-VICENTE Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

I hereby certify that this Decision was reached after due consultation among the members of this Division in accordance with the provisions of Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution.

EUGENIO S. LABITORIA Associate Justice Chairman, Special Fourth Division