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SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 149125. August 9, 2007.]


RESURRECCION OBRA, petitioner, vs. SPS. VICTORIANO BADUA &
MYRNA BADUA, SPS. JUANITO BALTORES & FLORDELIZA BALTORES,
SPS. ISABELO BADUA & PRESCILA BADUA, SPS. JOSE BALANON &
SHIRLEY BALANON, SPS. ORLANDO BADUA & MARITA BADUA and SPS.
LEONCIO BADUA & JUVY BADUA, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
VELASCO, JR., J p:
An order of execution must conform to the terms of the dispositive portion of the decision. A court that
issues an order of execution in contravention of its final judgment exceeds its jurisdiction and renders its
order invalid.
The Case
The present Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 seeks the annulment of the March 20, 2001 1
and June 20, 2001 2 Orders of the San Fernando City, La Union Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 29 in
Civil Case No. 5033, directing petitioner Obra to demolish the fence she constructed on the southern
portion of her property which blocked a portion of respondents' right-of-way. SDEHCc
The Facts
The case arose from a Complaint for Easement of Right-of-Way filed by respondents against Anacleto and
Resurreccion Obra, Donato and Lucena Bucasas, and Paulino and Crisanta Badua in Civil Case No. 5033
entitled Sps. Victoriano Badua and Myrna Badua, et al. v. Sps. Anacleto Obra and Resurreccion Obra, et al.
before the RTC. Defendant Anacleto Obra was the husband of petitioner. Respondents alleged that their
residential houses, erected on a lot commonly owned by them and covered by Tax Declaration No.
93-01900281 under Cadastral Lot No. 5518 situated in Galongen, Bacnotan, La Union, were located west of
the properties of the Obras, Bucasases, and Baduas. Their only access to the national highway was a
pathway traversing the northern portion of petitioner's property and the southern portion of the properties
of the Bucasases and Baduas. The pathway was more than one meter wide and sixteen meters long. They
claimed that this pathway had been established as early as 1955. In 1995, however, petitioner Obra
constructed a fence on the northern boundary of their property; thus, blocking respondents' access to the
national highway. Respondents demanded the demolition of the fence, but petitioner refused.
In her Answer, petitioner averred that respondents had not established any easement of right-of-way either
by law or agreement. She claimed that respondents failed to satisfy the requisites provided in Articles 649
and 650 of the Civil Code in order to establish an easement of right-of-way on the northern portion of her
property. Moreover, she alleged that respondents had another access as ingress and egress to the public
road other than the one traversing her property.
The spouses Badua and Bucasas failed to file an answer; consequently, they were declared in default.
On July 7, 2000, after trial, the RTC rendered a Decision 3 dismissing the complaint. It held that
respondents "were not able to satisfy all the requisites needed for their claim of an easement of right of
way." 4 It observed that when petitioner fenced the northern portion of her property, respondents were
able to use another pathway as ingress and egress to the highway. It stated further that "the new pathway is
more than adequate" 5 for respondents' use. Thus, the applied easement of right-of-way on the northern
portion of petitioner's property was not allowed. The said Decision became final and executory.
It must be noted that the "new" pathway used by respondents, however, traversed the southern portion of
petitioner's property. Sometime in 2001, petitioner constructed a fence on this portion of her lot, which
again restricted the use of respondents' "new" pathway. Aggrieved and prejudiced by petitioner's action,
respondents filed on March 6, 2001 a Motion to Enforce 6 the July 7, 2000 Decision of the RTC. They
alleged that the Decision of the RTC dismissing the case was based on the existence of a new pathway
which they had been using since 1995. Thus, they asserted that petitioner was prohibited from closing said
passage. cASEDC
On March 20, 2001, the RTC granted the said motion. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but it
was rejected in the trial court's June 20, 2001 Order.
Clarifying its July 7, 2000 Decision, the trial court, in its March 20, 2001 Order, held that the dismissal of the
complaint depended on petitioner's representation that she was allowing respondents to use the southern
portion of her property as an alternative pathway. Since the southern portion was an "agreed pathway," 7
petitioner could not reduce its width; thus, the trial court ordered petitioner to remove the fence blocking
the passage.
Hence, we have this petition.
The Issue
Petitioner assigns a lone issue for the consideration of the Court:
Whether or not the Court can motu proprio declare a compulsory right of
way on a property not the subject of a pending case (particularly Civil Case
No. 5033). 8
Essentially, petitioner questions the propriety of the trial court's issuance of an order clarifying its final and
executory decision and effectively establishing an easement on petitioner's property without proper
adjudication.
The Court's Ruling
The petition is impressed with merit.
Dispositive Portion of a Decision Controlling
The controversy of this petition stemmed from the alleged conflict between the body of the trial court's July
7, 2000 Decision and its dispositive portion. Respondents aver that notwithstanding the dismissal of Civil
Case No. 5033, the body of the Decision evidently established an easement on the southern portion of
petitioner's property. On the other hand, petitioner maintains that the trial court's reference to the "new"
pathway was merely a declaration of its existence and not necessarily a creation of an easement of right-of-
way.
We agree with petitioner's postulation.
The resolution of the court in a given issue embodied in the fallo or dispositive part of a decision or order is
the controlling factor as to settlement of rights of the parties. 9 Thus, where there is a conflict between the
fallo and the ratio decidendi or body of the decision, the fallo controls. This rule rests on the theory that the
fallo is the final order while the opinion in the body is merely a statement ordering nothing. 10 The rule
applies when the dispositive part of a final decision or order is definite, clear, and unequivocal, and can
wholly be given effect without need of interpretation or construction. 11
In the case at bench, the decretal portion of the July 7, 2000 Decision is plain and clear "[w]herefore, in
view of the foregoing, this case is hereby dismissed." When a court rules that the case or complaint is
dismissed, then it is concluded that the cause of action embodied in the allegations of the initiatory
pleading has no merit or basis, and the prayer is consequently denied.
The amended complaint filed by respondents in Civil Case No. 5033 revealed that their cause of action was
the recognition of their easement of right-of-way of "more than one (1) meter wide and more than sixteen
(16) meters in length [which] traversed the northern portion of the property of defendants spouses Anacleto
Obra and Resurreccion Obra." 12 As prayer, respondents asked for the demolition of the concrete fence
constructed by petitioner and her spouse, Anacleto, that closed the pathway on the northern portion of
Obra's lot; the declaration of right-of-way over said area in favor of respondents; and the payment of
damages and attorney's fees. When the RTC dismissed the case in its July 7, 2000 Decision, it ruled that
respondents had no cause of action against petitioner and her husband, Anacleto, because they failed to
satisfy one of the four requisites for the entitlement of a right-of-way, namely that the dominant estate is
surrounded by other immovables and is without adequate outlet to a public highway. The trial court took
note of the fact that the new pathway which incidentally traversed the southern portion of petitioner's lot is
an adequate outlet to a public highway. While its body mentioned the existence of an alternative pathway
located south of petitioner's lot, such was made only to emphasize that respondents failed to satisfy the
requirements for an easement of right-of-way. As held by the trial court: EHASaD
The insistence of the plaintiffs to open up the old pathway is therefore
without basis considering that there is another outlet adequate enough as
an access route for them in their passage to the public highway and the
alleged inconvenience cannot be a ground for the opening of said old
pathway.
xxx xxx xxx
In fine, plaintiffs were not able to satisfy all the requisites needed for their
claim of an easement of right of way; failing to prove that there is no
adequate outlet from their respective properties to a public highway. 13
Apparently, no pronouncement was ever made regarding the nature and legality of this "new" pathway;
therefore, no easement was established by the Court on petitioner's property in Civil Case No. 5033. Thus,
their claim for a right-of-way on the southern portion had no basis.
The parties and even the trial court were confined to the averments of the complaint, and the answer and
the issues joined by the major pleadings. It could not be disputed by respondents that there was no
mention at all of any right-of-way on the southern portion of petitioner's lot in the complaint nor any claim
or prayer for the declaration of respondents' entitlement to a right-of-way over the said area. Thus, there
was no joinder of issue on this matter and, therefore, the dismissal of the case cannot, by any stretch of
imagination, be construed to encompass any grant of right-of-way to respondents relating to the southern
portion owned by petitioner.
More importantly, the case was dismissed by the RTC, meaning no relief was granted by the court to
respondents. Granting arguendo that the issue on the entitlement to respondents of a right-of-way over the
southern portion was likewise raised and was implicit from the pleadings; nevertheless, respondents, by the
dismissal of the case, were not granted any affirmative relief by the trial court. As such, the trial court clearly
erred in issuing the March 20, 2001 Order which granted a relief not found in the fallo of the decision.
DAcSIC

Moreover, the construction of the fence on the southern portion was done by petitioner after the rendition
and finality of the July 7, 2000 Decision dismissing the case. It is plain to see that such act of constructing
the fence was subsequent to the Decision and could not have been covered by said judgment. The dispute
that arose from the blockade of the pathway on the southern portion could be the subject matter of another
complaint but definitely was not an issue in Civil Case No. 5033. In the new case, respondents are obliged
to prove all the essential elements of the easement of right-of-way a requirement which they failed to
satisfy in Civil Case No. 5033.
Lastly, the assailed March 20, 2001 Order directing the demolition of the concrete fence was in the nature
of an execution of a final judgment. It is settled that what can be enforced by a writ of execution under Rule
39 are the dispositions in the decretal portion of the decision or the fallo. Since the case was dismissed,
there was nothing to enforce or implement. aDHCcE
No Voluntary Easement of Right-of-Way
The trial court, seemingly aware that it did not determine the legality of an easement of right-of-way over
the pathway located south of petitioner's property, nevertheless, concluded that the said passage was an
agreed or voluntary easement of right-of-way which petitioner should respect.
The trial court was in error.
It is a settled doctrine that a decision, after it becomes final, becomes immutable and unalterable. 14 Thus,
the court loses jurisdiction to amend, modify, or alter a final judgment and is left only with the jurisdiction to
execute and enforce it. Any amendment or alteration which substantially affects a final and executory
judgment is null and void for lack of jurisdiction, including the entire proceedings held for that purpose. 15
To recapitulate, the dismissal of Civil Case No. 5033 meant that no easement was ever established on
petitioner's property. However, the trial court, by issuing its March 20, 2001 Order directing petitioner to
remove the fence that limited respondents' passage, effectively created a right-of-way on petitioner's
property in favor of respondents allegedly on the basis of a voluntary agreement between the parties. This
directive was in contravention of its July 7, 2000 Decision; thus, it was null and void for having been issued
outside of the court's jurisdiction.
Granting for the sake of argument that the issue of voluntary easement of right-of-way, subject of the
assailed March 20, 2001 Order, was proper, relevant, and material to the issue of right-of-way as averred in
the complaint in Civil Case No. 5033, still, the conclusion that there was an agreed or voluntary easement of
right-of-way had no basis. The records of Civil Case No. 5033 do not reveal any agreement executed by the
parties on the claimed right-of-way. Glaring is the fact that the terms of the arrangement were not agreed
upon by the parties, more particularly, the payment of the proper indemnity. The evidence is not ample
enough to support the conclusion that there was a verbal agreement on the right-of-way over the southern
portion.
More so, since a right-of-way is an interest in the land, any agreement creating it should be drawn and
executed with the same formalities as a deed to a real estate, and ordinarily must be in writing. 16 No
written instrument on this agreement was adduced by respondents.
In the light of the foregoing considerations, the assailed March 20, 2001 and June 20, 2001 Orders are null,
void, and without any legal effect.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The June 20, 2001 and March 20, 2001 Orders of the San
Fernando City, La Union RTC, Branch 29 in Civil Case No. 5033 are hereby ANNULLED AND SET ASIDE.
aEDCAH
No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Quisumbing, Carpio, Carpio-Morales and Tinga, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 149125 August 9, 2007
Resurreccion Obra, petitioner vs Sps. Victoriano Badua, respondent
The present Petition for Review on Certiorari seeks the annulment of the Orders of the San Fernando
City, La Union
RTC, directing petitioner Obra to demolish the fence she constructed on the southern portion of her
property which
blocked a portion of respondents right
-of-way.
Facts:
1. The case arose from a Complaint for Easement of Right-of-Way led by respondents against
Anacleto and
Resurreccion Obra, Donato and Lucena Bucasas, and Paulino and Crisanta Badua before the RTC.
Defendant
Anacleto Obra of that case is the husband of the petitioner now.
> In that case, the respondents alleged that their residential houses, erected on a lot commonly
owned by them were
located west of the properties of the Obras, Bucasases, and Baduas. Their only access to the national
highway was a
pathway traversing the northern portion of petitioners property and the southern portion of the
properties of th
e
Bucasases and Baduas. The pathway was more than one meter wide and sixteen meters long. They
claimed that this
pathway had been established as early as 1955. In 1995, however, petitioner Obra constructed a
fence on the
northern boundary of their prope
rty; thus, blocking respondents access to the national highway. Respondents
demanded the demolition of the fence, but petitioner refused.
> In her Answer, petitioner averred that respondents had not established any easement of right-of-
way either by law or
agreement. She claimed that respondents failed to satisfy the requisites provided in Articles 649 and
650 of the Civil
Code in order to establish an easement of right-of-way on the northern portion of her property.
Moreover, she alleged
that respondents had another access as ingress and egress to the public road other than the one
traversing her
property.
> The spouses Badua and Bucasas, the other respondents, failed to le an answer; consequently, they
were declared
in default.
> The RTC dismissed the complaint and held that the
respondents were not able to satisfy all the requisites needed
for their claim of an easement of right of way.

> It observed that when petitioner fenced the northern portion of her property, respondents were
able to use another
pathway as ingress and egress to the highway. It stated further that the new pathway is more than
adequate for
respondents use. Thus, the applied easement of right
-of-
way on the northern portion of petitioners property was not
allowed. The said Decision became nal and executory.
2.
It must be noted that the new pathway used by respondents, however, traversed the southern
portion of
petitioners property.
3. Sometime in 2001, petitioner constructed a fence on this portion of her lot, which again restricted
the use of
respondents new pathway.
4.
Aggrieved and prejudiced by petitioners action, re
spondents led a Motion to Enforce the July 7, 2000 Decision of
the RTC. They alleged that the Decision of the RTC dismissing the case was based on the existence of
a new
pathway which they had been using since 1995. Thus, they asserted that petitioner was prohibited
from closing said
passage.
> The RTC granted the said motion.
> Petitioner Obra led a Motion for Reconsideration, but it was rejected in the trial court Order.
5. Clarifying its July 7, 2000 Decision, the trial court, in its March 20, 2001 Order, held that the
dismissal of the
complaint depended on petitioners representation that she was allowing respondents to
use the southern portion of
her property as an alternative pathway. Since the southern portion was an agreed pathway,
petitioner could not
reduce its width; thus, the trial court ordered petitioner to remove the fence blocking the passage.
The Issue
Essentially, petitioner questions the propriety of the trial courts issuance of an order clarifying its
nal and
executory decision and effectively establishing an easement on petitioners property without proper
adjudication.
The Courts Ruling

The petition is impressed with merit.
With the 2000 decision of the RTC, the respondents claim that there had been established an
easement on the
southern portion of the petitioners property, but the petitioner asserts that the trial courts
reference to the

new
pathway was merely a declaration of its existence and not necessarily a creation of an easement of
right-of-way.
We agree with petitioners postulation
FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. 149692. July 30, 2002.]
HEIRS OF SPOUSES JULIAN DELA CRUZ AND MAGDALENA TUAZON, represented by their
Attorney-in-Fact and co-heir, VIRGILIO C. ALVENDIA, petitioners, vs. HEIRS OF FLORENTINO
QUINTOS, SR., namely, FLORENTINO QUINTOS, JR. and GLORIA QUINTOS BUGAYONG,
respondents.
Law Firm of Lapea & Asso. for petitioners.
Daniel C. Macaraeg for private respondents.
SYNOPSIS
Petitioners filed with the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) a complaint for reconveyance against respondent
claiming that the subject lot comprising of 607 square meters in Lingayen, Pangasinan was purchased by
their predecessor in interest from the Tiong spouses. Petitioners presented an affidavit executed by the
Tiong Spouses which stated that they were the former owners of the land which they sold to petitioners'
predecessor. They failed, however, to attach a copy of the said alleged sale nor a copy of the tax
declaration or title in the name of the Tiongs. Respondents, in their answer, alleged that they owned the
property by virtue of a land registration case wherein petitioners failed to oppose. The MTC rendered
judgment in favor of petitioners which was however, reversed on appeal by the Regional Trial Court (RTC).
Petitioners moved for reconsideration, but was denied and a copy was received by the secretary of
petitioners' counsel on March 16, 2000. On April 18, 2000, petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals a
motion for extension of time to file petition for review which was subsequently filed on May 2, 2000.
Petitioners' counsel claimed that it was only on April 3, 2000 that she came to know about the resolution
denying her motion for reconsideration. The motion was denied as well as petitioners' motion for
reconsideration. Hence, this petition.
The Court held that the 15-day period to appeal an adverse decision is not only mandatory but
jurisdictional. In the absence of any extraordinary circumstance, this rule will not be liberally construed. And
that the negligence of the clerks which adversely affect the cases handled by lawyers is binding upon the
latter. The petition was denied.
SYLLABUS
1. REMEDIAL LAW; 1997 RULES ON CIVIL PROCEDURE; APPEAL; 15-DAY PERIOD TO APPEAL; PERIOD
COUNTED FROM DATE OF RECEIPT OF RESOLUTION DENYING PETITIONERS' MOTION FOR
RECONSIDERATION; CASE AT BAR. Section 1, Rule 42 of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure provided
that the petition shall be filed and served within 15 days from. notice of the decision sought to be reviewed
or of the denial of petitioner's motion for new trial or reconsideration filed in due time after judgment. In
the instant case, it has been established that the resolution denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration
of the trial court's decision was received by the secretary of petitioners' former counsel on March 16, 2000,
thus the last day of the 15-day period within which to file the petition for review with the respondent court
was March 31, 2000. Considering that counsel filed a motion for extension of time to file a petition for
review with the respondent court only on April 18, 2000, the judgment of the RTC subject of the petition for
review had already become final and executory. Consequently, the CA did not err in dismissing the petition
for being filed out of time since it has no more jurisdiction to entertain the petition much less to alter a
judgment.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; MANNER AND PERIOD OF PERFECTION THEREOF, JURISDICTIONAL. This Court has
invariably ruled that perfection of an appeal in the manner and within the period laid down by law is not
only mandatory but also jurisdictional. The failure to perfect an appeal as required by the rules has the
effect of defeating the right to appeal of a party and precluding the appellate court from acquiring
jurisdiction over the case. The right to appeal is not a natural right nor a part of due process; it is merely a
statutory privilege, and may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the provisions of the
law. The party who seeks to avail of the same must comply with the requirement of the rules. Failing to do
so, the right to appeal is lost.
3. LEGAL ETHICS; ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP; NEGLIGENCE OF CLERKS, BINDING UPON
COUNSEL. We agree with the CA when it found that the reason advanced by petitioners' former
counsel, which is that she received the resolution denying her motion for reconsideration only on April 3,
2000 as she found it on her table on the same date, unacceptable. The negligence of her secretary in failing
to immediately give the trial court's resolution denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration upon receipt
to the counsel and the negligence of counsel to adopt and arrange matters: in order to ensure that official
or judicial communications sent by mail would reach her promptly cannot be considered excusable. The
Court has also often repeated that the negligence of the clerks which adversely affect the cases handled by
lawyers, is binding upon the latter. The doctrinal rule is that the negligence of counsel binds the client
because otherwise, "there would never be an end to a suit so long as new counsel could be employed who
could allege and show that prior counsel had not be sufficiently diligent, or experienced, or learned."
4. REMEDIAL LAW; RULES OF PROCEDURE; LIBERAL CONSTRUCTION ALLOWED ONLY IN CASES OF
EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES. Petitioners claim that there should be a liberal construction of the
rules of procedure in order to effect substantial justice and appeal to this Court's exercise of equity
jurisdiction. We are not persuaded. There is no showing in this case of any extraordinary circumstance which
may justify a deviation from the rule on timely filing of appeals.
5. ID.; EVIDENCE; AFFIDAVIT, BY ITSELF, NOT A MODE OF ACQUIRING OWNERSHIP; CASE AT BAR.
Petitioners' claim of ownership was based on the affidavit of Herminigildo and Filomena Tiong executed on
November 9,1926 which stated among others that they were the former owners in common of the subject
parcel of land which they sold to Magdalena Tuazon (petitioners' predecessor in interest) on or about the
year 1897. However, such affidavit was not accompanied by any instrument showing the sale between the
Tiong spouses and Magdalena Tuazon. By itself, an affidavit is not a mode of acquiring ownership, thus it
cannot serve as the basis of ownership of the petitioners. Moreover, the RTC found that there was no tax
declaration or title in the name of the Tiong spouses to evidence their ownership of the subject land. On
the other hand, respondents' ownership of the subject land was by virtue of a land registration case where
the land registration court found sufficient the well documented evidence submitted by applicant Florentino
Quintos, Sr. (respondents' predecessor in interest) to prove their ownership of 2,048 sq. meters lot which
included the subject land.
6. ID.; ID.; BURDEN OF PROOF IN CIVIL CASES. In civil cases, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to
establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. If he claims a right granted or created by law, he must
prove his claim by competent evidence. He must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not on the
weakness of that of his opponent. The RTC had correctly ruled that petitioners failed to show sufficient
proof of ownership over the subject land covered by TCT No. 173052 so as to entitle them the return of the
same.
D E C I S I O N
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J p:
Before Us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 filed by petitioners seeking to reverse and set
aside the Resolution dated May 29, 2001 of the Court of Appeals 1 which dismissed their petition for review
of the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Lingayen, Pangasinan (Branch 38) on the ground that the
petition was filed out of time; and, the Resolution dated August 29, 2001 2 denying their motion for
reconsideration. cHaICD
Sometime in 1996, petitioners filed with the Municipal Trial Court of Lingayen, Pangasinan an action for
reconveyance with damages 3 against respondents alleging, among others, that they are the children of the
late Ariston dela Cruz, who was the only forced and legal heir of his deceased parents, Julian dela Cruz and
Magdalena Tuazon who died intestate; that sometime in 1897, Magdalena Tuazon purchased from
Herminigildo and Filomena Tiong a certain parcel of land located at Heroes Street, Lingayen, Pangasinan
consisting of 605 square meters and since then respondents and their predecessors had been in continuous
occupation and adverse possession of the subject land; that sometime in 1987, private respondents'
predecessor Florentino Quintos, Sr., filed an application for the judicial registration of a certain land which
included petitioners' land; that the land registration court granted Quintos' application and decreed the
land in Florentino Quintos' name and OCT No. 22665 was subsequently issued; that OCT No. 22665 was
partitioned into four separate lots and petitioners' land was covered by TCT No. 173052; that respondents
subsequently filed a complaint (docketed as Civil Case No. 4118) for illegal detainer against petitioners for
the latter's refusal to vacate the subject land which resulted in petitioners' ejectment from the subject
property.
Respondents filed their answer with counterclaim, alleging that the subject land had always belonged to
respondents' late father Florentino Quintos, Sr., who in turn inherited the same from his mother, Dolores
Tuazon; that the affidavit evidencing petitioners' ownership of the subject land was not attached to the
complaint; that respondents' predecessors merely tolerated petitioners' possession of the subject land; that
petitioners never filed their opposition to respondents' application for registration despite knowledge
thereof; that the land registration case which was the basis for the issuance of OCT No. 22665 in the name
of the predecessor of respondents was a proceeding in rem which bound all persons whether notified or
not.

On January 29, 1999, a decision 4 was rendered by the MTC declaring petitioners as the legal owners of
the land covered by TCT No. 173052 and ordering respondents to convey to petitioners the subject land
and to pay damages to petitioners. 5
Respondents filed their appeal before the Regional Trial Court, Lingayen, Pangasinan (Branch 38). On
January 19, 2000, the RTC 6 reversed the decision of the MTC dismissing the complaint, declaring
respondents as the absolute owners of the subject land and ordering petitioners to pay damages to
respondents. AECcTS
Petitioners filed their motion for reconsideration which the trial court denied in a Resolution dated March 8,
2000. 7
On April 18, 2000, petitioners, through counsel, filed with the Court of Appeals (CA) a motion for extension
of time to file a petition for review which she subsequently filed on May 2, 2000. Respondents filed a
motion to dismiss the petition for review for being filed out of time since the certification issued by
Postmaster Elizabeth I. Torio of Dagupan City Post Office and the affidavit of Ricardo C. Castro, Clerk III of
the Regional Trial Court show that the trial court's Resolution dated March 8, 2000 denying petitioners
motion for reconsideration was received by the secretary of petitioners' counsel on March 16, 2000, thus
the filing of the petition was filed 28 days late.
Petitioners' counsel filed her Comment to respondents' motion to dismiss alleging that when she arrived in
her office on April 3, 2000, she found copies of pleadings and correspondence including a copy of the trial
court's Resolution dated March 8, 2000 denying her motion for reconsideration; that she thought that these
pleadings and correspondence were all received on April 3, 2000; that upon receipt of respondents' motion
to dismiss, she confronted her secretary who told her that the envelope containing the Resolution was only
opened on April 3, 2000 and her secretary could not recall if the Resolution was among those she received
on March 16, 2000.
On May 29, 2001, the CA issued the assailed Resolution dismissing petitioners' petition for review for being
filed out of time. It found the explanation given by petitioners' counsel unconvincing since she failed to give
the reason why the envelope was opened only on April 3, 2000; that counsel's secretary did not even admit
that she actually received the said Resolution; that it is the counsel's duty to adopt and strictly maintain a
system that efficiently takes into account all court notices sent to her and she failed to instruct and remind
her secretary on what should be done with respect to such notices and processes. Petitioners' motion for
reconsideration was denied in a Resolution dated August 29, 2001.
Hence, the present petition on the following grounds:
1) The appellate court rejected and refused to consider the valid reason submitted by the petitioner's
counsel for the apparent delay in the filing of the petition for review with said court; hence the dismissal of
the petition was tainted with grave abuse of discretion;
2) Granting, arguendo, that there is a basis for the dismissal of the petition, the appellate court should have
applied the principle of liberal construction of the Rules pursuant to Rule 1, Section 6 of the 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure (1997 RCP), considering the valid and meritorious case of petitioners. ETIDaH
3) In either case, it is respectfully submitted that the appellate court has departed from the accepted and
usual course of judicial proceedings in dismissing outright the petition for review as to call for the
supervision of this Honorable Court in the exercise of its equity jurisdiction. 8
We deny the petition.
Section 1, Rule 42 of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure, provides that the petition shall be filed and served
within 15 days from notice of the decision sought to be reviewed or of the denial of petitioner's motion for
new trial or reconsideration filed in due time after judgment. 9 In the instant case, it has been established
that the resolution denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration of the trial court's decision was received
by the secretary of petitioners' former counsel on March 16, 2000, thus the last day of the 15-day period
within which to file the petition for review with the respondent court was March 31, 2000. Considering that
counsel filed a motion for extension of time to file a petition for review with the respondent court only on
April 18, 2000, the judgment of the RTC subject of the petition for review had already become final and
executory. Consequently, the CA did not err in dismissing the petition for being filed out of time since it has
no more jurisdiction to entertain the petition much less to alter a judgment.
This Court has invariably ruled that perfection of an appeal in the manner and within the period laid down
by law is not only mandatory but also jurisdictional. 10 The failure to perfect an appeal as required by the
rules has the effect of defeating the right to appeal of a party and precluding the appellate court from
acquiring jurisdiction over the case. 11 The right to appeal is not a natural right nor a part of due process; it
is merely a statutory privilege, and may be exercised only in the manner and in accordance with the
provisions of the law. 12 The party who seeks to avail of the same must comply with the requirement of the
rules. Failing to do so, the right to appeal is lost. 13
We agree with the CA when it found that the reason advanced by petitioners' former counsel, which is that
she received the resolution denying her motion for reconsideration only on April 3, 2000 as she found it on
her table on the same date, unacceptable. The negligence of her secretary in failing to immediately give
the trial court's resolution denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration upon receipt to the counsel and
the negligence of counsel to adopt and arrange matters in order to ensure that official or judicial
communications sent by mail would reach her promptly cannot be considered excusable. The Court has
also often repeated that the negligence of the clerks which adversely affect the cases handled by lawyers, is
binding upon the latter. 14 The doctrinal rule is that the negligence of counsel binds the client because
otherwise, "there would never be an end to a suit so long as new counsel could be employed who could
allege and show that prior counsel had not be sufficiently diligent, or experienced, or learned. 15
Petitioners claim that there should be a liberal construction of the rules of procedure in order to effect
substantial justice and appeal to this Court's exercise of equity jurisdiction. We are not persuaded. There is
no showing in this case of any extraordinary circumstance which may justify a deviation from the rule on
timely filing of appeals. As held in the case of Tupas vs. CA: 16
"Rules of procedure are intended to ensure the orderly administration of justice and the protection of
substantive rights in judicial and extrajudicial proceedings. It is a mistake to suppose that substantive law
and adjective law are contradictory to each other or, has often been "suggested, that enforcement of
procedural rules should never be permitted if it will result in prejudice to the substantive rights of the
litigants. This is not exactly true; the concept is much misunderstood. As a matter of fact, the policy of the
courts is to give effect to both kinds of law, as complementing each other, in the just and speedy resolution
of the dispute between the parties. Observance of both substantive and procedural rights is equally
guaranteed by due process, whatever the source of such rights, be it the Constitution itself or only a statute
or a rule of court. (Limpot vs. CA, 170 SCRA 369) SHTcDE
xxx xxx xxx
"For all its conceded merits, equity is available only in the absence of law and not as its replacement. Equity
is described as justice outside legality, which simply means that it cannot supplant although it may, as often
happens, supplement the law. We said in an earlier case, and we repeat it now, that all abstract arguments
based only on equity should yield to positive rules, which pre-empt and prevail over such persuasions.
Emotional appeals for justice, while they may wring the heart of the Court, cannot justify disregard of the
mandate of the law as long as it remains in force. The applicable maxim, which goes back to the ancient
days of the Roman jurists and is now still reverently observed is 'aequetas nunquam contravenit
legis."' (Aguila vs. CA, 160 SCRA 359)
At any rate, we find no reversible error committed by the RTC in dismissing petitioners' complaint for
reconveyance against respondents. Petitioners' claim of ownership was based on the affidavit of
Herminigildo and Filomena Tiong executed on November 9, 1926 which stated among others that they
were the former owners in common of the subject parcel of land which they sold to Magdalena Tuazon
(petitioners' predecessor in interest) on or about the year 1897. However, such affidavit was not
accompanied by any instrument showing the sale between the Tiong spouses and Magdalena Tuazon. By
itself, an affidavit is not a mode of acquiring ownership, 17 thus it cannot serve as the basis of ownership of
the petitioners. Moreover, the RTC found that there was no tax declaration or title in the name of the Tiong
spouses to evidence their ownership of the subject land. On the other hand, respondents' ownership of the
subject land was by virtue of a land registration case where the land registration court found sufficient the
well documented evidence submitted by applicant Florentino Quintos, Sr. (respondents' predecessor in
interest) to prove their ownership of 2,048 sq. meters lot which included the subject land.
In civil cases, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to establish his case by a preponderance of evidence. If
he claims a right granted or created by law, he must prove his claim by competent evidence. He must rely
on the strength of his own evidence and not on the weakness of that of his opponent. 18 The RTC had
correctly ruled that petitioners failed to show sufficient proof of ownership over the subject land covered by
TCT No. 173052 so as to entitle them the return of the same.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Court of Appeals' Resolution dated May 29, 2001 and
Resolution dated August 29, 2001 are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners. cHDEaC
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Vitug, Kapunan and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.
Footnotes
1. Penned by Justice Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando, concurred in by Justices Romeo A. Brawner and Juan
Q. Enriquez, Jr.; CA-G.R. SP NO. 58545; Rollo, pp. 25-26.
2. Rollo, pp. 27-28.
3. Ibid, pp. 50-54.
4. Penned by Judge Hermogenes Fernandez: Civil Case No. 4182; Rollo, pp. 55-81.
5. Rollo, pp. 80-81.
6. Ibid, pp. 82-96; Penned by Judge Leo M. Rapatalo; Civil Case No. 17975.
7. Ibid, pp. 97-100.
8. Ibid., p. 15.
9. Section 1. How appeal taken; time for filing A party desiring to appeal from a decision of the Regional
Trial Court rendered in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction may file a verified petition for review with the
Court of Appeals, paying at the same time to the clerk of said court the corresponding docket and other
lawful fees, depositing the amount of P500.00 for costs, and furnishing the Regional Trial Court and the
adverse party with a copy of the petition. The petition shall be filed and served within fifteen (15) days from
notice of the decision sought to be reviewed or of the denial of petitioner's motion for new trial or
reconsideration filed in due time after judgment. Upon proper motion and the payment of the full amount
of the docket and other lawful fees and the deposit for costs before the expiration of the reglementary
period, the Court of Appeals may grant an additional period of fifteen (15) days only within which to file the
petition for review. No further extension shall be granted except for the most compelling reason and in no
case to exceed fifteen (15) days.
10. Villanueva vs. CA, 205 SCRA 537, 543 citing Reyes vs. Carrasco, 38 SCRA 296 (1971); Republic, et al. vs.
Reyes, etc., et al., 71 SCRA 450 (1976); Borre, et al., vs. CA, et al., 158 SCRA 560 (1988); Sublay vs. NLRC;
324 SCRA 188
11. Villanueva vs. CA, supra citing Martha Lumber Mill, Inc. vs. Lagradante, et al., 99 Phil 434 (1956);
Pabores vs. Workmen's Compensation Commission, et al., 104 Phil 505 (1958); A. L. Ammen Transportation,
Co., Inc. vs. Workmen's Compensation Commission, et al., 12 SCRA 508 (1964).
12. Ibid, citing Tropical Homes, Inc. vs. National Housing Authority, et al., 152 SCRA 540 (1987); Borre, et al
vs. CA, supra.
13. Ibid, citing Ozaeta vs. CA, et, al., 179 SCRA 800 (1989).
14. Negros Stevedoring Co., Inc. vs. CA, 162 SCRA 371, 375 (1988).
15. Gacutana-Fraile vs. Domingo, 348 SCRA 414, 422 (2000).
16. 193 SCRA 597, 600 (1991).
17. Cequea vs. Bolante, 330 SCRA 216, 223-224 (2000).
18. Javier vs. CA, 231 SCRA 498, 504 (1994).

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PRESUMPTIVE DEATH
Republic of the Philippines VS. Bermudez Lorino
G.R. No. 160258. January 19, 2005
Facts: Gloria Bermudez and Francisco Lorino were married in June 1987. The wife was unaware that her
husband was a habitual drinker with violent attitude and character and had the propensity to go out with his
friends to the point of being unable to work. In 1991 she left him and returned to her parents together with
her three children. She went abroad to work for her support her children. From the time she left him, she
had no communication with him or his relatives.
In 2000, nine years after leaving her husband, Gloria filed a verified petition with the RTC under the rules on
Summary Judicial Proceedings in the Family Law. The lower court issued an order for the publication of the
petition in a newspaper of general circulation.
In November 7, 2001, the RTC granted the summary petition. Although the judgment was final and
executors under the provisions of Act. 247 of the Family Code, the OSG for the Republic of the Philippines
filed a notice of appeal.
Issue: Whether or not the factual and legal bases for a judicial declaration of presumptive death under Art
41 of the Family Code were duly established.
Held: Art. 238 of the Family Code under Title XI Summary Judicial Proceeding in the Family Law, sets the
tenor for cases scoured by these rules, to wit:
Art238. Until modified by the Supreme Court, the procedural rules in this Title shall apply in all cases
provided for in this Code requiring summary court proceeding. Such cases shall be decided in an
expeditions manner with out regards technical rules.
The judge of the RTC fully complied with the above-cited provision by expeditiously rending judgment
within ninety (90) days after the formal offer of evidence by the petitioner.
SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 132524. December 29, 1998.]
FEDERICO C. SUNTAY, petitioner, vs. ISABEL COJUANGCO-SUNTAY *
and HON. GREGORIO S. SAMPAGA, Presiding Judge, Branch 78,
Regional Trial Court, Malolos, Bulacan, respondents.
SYLLABUS
REMEDIAL LAW; CIVIL PROCEDURE; JUDGMENT; IN CASE A DOUBT OR UNCERTAINTY EXISTS
BETWEEN THE DISPOSITIVE PORTION AND THE BODY OF THE DECISION, EFFORT MUST BE MADE TO
HARMONIZE THE WHOLE BODY OF THE DECISION IN ORDER TO GIVE EFFECT TO THE PURPOSE AND
JUDGMENT OF THE COURT. The decision of the CFI of Rizal declared null and void the marriage of
respondent Isabel's parents based on paragraph 3, Article 85 of the New Civil Code. The legal
consequences as to the rights of the children are therefore governed by the first clause of the second
paragraph of Article 89. A contrary interpretation would be anathema to the rule just above-mentioned.
Based on said provision the children of Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay and Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay who were
conceived and born prior to the decree of the trial court setting aside their marriage on October 3, 1967
are considered legitimate. For purposes of seeking appointment as estate administratrix, the legitimate
grandchildren, including respondent Isabel, may invoke their successional right of representation in the
estate of their grandmother Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay after their father, Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay, had
predeceased their grandmother. This is, however, without prejudice to a determination by the courts of
whether the Letters of Administration may be granted to her. Neither do the Court adjudged herein the
successional rights of the personalities involved over the decedent's estate. It would not therefore be amiss
to reiterate at this point what the Court, speaking through Chief Justice Ruiz Castro, emphasized to "all
magistrates of all levels of the judicial hierarchy that extreme degree of care should be exercised in the
formulation of the dispositive portion of a decision, because it is this portion that is to be executed once the
decision becomes final. The adjudication of the rights and obligations of the parties, and the dispositions
made as well as the directions and instructions given by the court in the premises in conformity with the
body of the decision, must all be spelled out clearly, distinctly and unequivocally leaving absolutely no room
for dispute, debate or interpretation." cdasia
D E C I S I O N
MARTINEZ, J p:
Which should prevail between the ratio decidendi and the fallo of a decision is the primary issue in this
petition for certiorari under Rule 65 filed by petitioner Federico C. Suntay who opposes respondent Isabel's
petition for appointment as administratrix of her grandmother's estate by virtue of her right of
representation. Cdpr
The suit stemmed from the following:
On July 9, 1958, Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay (son of petitioner Federico Suntay) and Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay
were married in the Portuguese Colony of Macao. Out of this marriage, three children were born namely:
Margarita Guadalupe, Isabel Aguinaldo and Emilio Aguinaldo all surnamed Cojuangco Suntay. After 4
years, the marriage soured so that in 1962, Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay filed a criminal case 1 against her
husband Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay. In retaliation, Emilio Aguinaldo filed before the then Court of First
Instance (CFI) 2 a complaint for legal separation against his wife, charging her, among others, with infidelity
and praying for the custody and care of their children who were living with their mother. 3 The suit was
docketed as civil case number Q-7180.
On October 3, 1967, the trial court rendered a decision the dispositive portion of which reads:
"WHEREFORE, the marriage celebrated between Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay
and Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay on July 9, 1958 is hereby declared null and
void and of no effect as between the parties. It being admitted by the
parties and shown by the record that the question of the case and custody
of the three children have been the subject of another case between the
same parties in another branch of this Court in Special Proceeding No.
6428, the same cannot be litigated in this case.
"With regard to counterclaim, in view of the manifestation of counsel that
the third party defendants are willing to pay P50,000.00 for damages and
that defendant is willing to accept the offer instead of her original demand
for P130,000.00, the defendant is awarded said sum of P50,000.00 as her
counterclaim and to pay attorney's fees in the amount of P5,000.00.
"SO ORDERED. 4 (Emphasis supplied)
As basis thereof, the CFI said:
"From February 1965 thru December 1965 plaintiff was confined in the
Veterans Memorial Hospital. Although at the time of the trial of parricide
case (September 8, 1967) the patient was already out of the hospital he
continued to be under observation and treatment.
"It is the opinion of Dr. Aramil that the symptoms of the plaintiff's mental
aberration classified as schizophernia (sic) had made themselves manifest
even as early as 1955; that the disease worsened with time, until 1965
when he was actually placed under expert neuro-psychiatrist (sic) treatment;
that even if the subject has shown marked progress, the remains bereft
adequate understanding of right and wrong.
"There is no controversy that the marriage between the parties was
effected on July 9, 1958, years after plaintiff's mental illness had set in. This
fact would justify a declaration of nullity of the marriage under Article 85 of
the Civil Code which provides:
"Art 95. (sic) A marriage may be annulled for nay of the following causes
after (sic) existing at the time of the marriage: cdphil
"xxx xxx xxx
"(3) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party,
after coming to reason, freely cohabited with the
other as husband or wife.
"There is a dearth of proof at the time of the marriage defendant knew
about the mental condition of plaintiff; and there is proof that plaintiff
continues to be without sound reason. The charges in this very complaint
add emphasis to the findings of the neuro-psychiatrist handling the patient,
that plaintiff really lives more in fancy than in reality, a strong indication of
schizophernia (sic). 5 (Emphasis supplied)
On June 1, 1979, Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay predeceased his mother, the decedent Cristina
Aguinaldo-Suntay. The latter is respondent Isabel's paternal grandmother. The decedent died
on June 4, 1990 without leaving a will. 6
Five years later or on October 26, 1995, respondent Isabel Aguinaldo Cojuangco Suntay filed before the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) 7 a petition for issuance in her favor of Letters of Administration of the Intestate
Estate of her late grandmother Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay which case was docketed as Special Proceeding
Case No. 117-M-95. In her petition, she alleged among others, that she is one of the legitimate
grandchildren of the decedent and prayed that she be appointed as administratrix of the estate. 8
On December 15, 1995, petitioner filed an Opposition claiming that he is the surviving spouse of the
decedent, that he has been managing the conjugal properties even while the decedent has been alive and
is better situated to protect the integrity of the estate than the petitioner, that petitioner and her family
have been alienated from the decedent and the Oppositor for more than thirty (30) years and thus, prayed
that Letters of Administration be issued instead to him. 9
On September 22, 1997 or almost two years after filing an opposition, petitioner moved to dismiss the
special proceeding case alleging in the main that respondent Isabel should not be appointed as
administratrix of the decedent's estate. In support thereof, petitioner argues that under Article 992 of the
Civil Code an illegitimate child has no right to succeed by right of representation the legitimate relatives of
her father or mother. Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay, respondent Isabel's father predeceased his mother, the late
Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay and thus, opened succession by representation. Petitioner contends that as a
consequence of the declaration by the then CFI of Rizal that the marriage of respondent Isabel's parents is
"null and void," the latter is an illegitimate child, and has no right nor interest in the estate of her paternal
grandmother the decedent. 10 On October 16, 1997, the trial court issued the assailed order denying
petitioner's Motion to Dismiss. 11 When his motion for reconsideration was denied by the trial court in an
order dated January 9, 1998, 12 petitioner, as mentioned above filed this petition.
Petitioner imputes grave abuse of discretion to respondent court in denying his motion to dismiss as well as
his motion for reconsideration on the grounds that: (a) a motion to dismiss is appropriate in a special
proceeding for the settlement of estate of a deceased person; (b) the motion to dismiss was timely filed; (c)
the dispositive portion of the decision declaring the marriage of respondent Isabel's parents "null and void"
must be upheld; and (d) said decision had long become final and had, in fact, been executed.
On the other hand, respondent Isabel asserts that petitioner's motion to dismiss was late having been filed
after the opposition was already filed in court, the counterpart of an answer in an ordinary civil action and
that petitioner in his opposition likewise failed to specifically deny respondent Isabel's allegation that she is
a legitimate child of Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay, the decedent's son. She further contends that petitioner
proceeds from a miscomprehension of the judgment in Civil Case No. Q-7180 and the erroneous premise
that there is a conflict between the body of the decision and its dispositive portion because in an action for
annulment of a marriage, the court either sustains the validity of the marriage or nullifies it. It does not, after
hearing declare a marriage "voidable" otherwise, the court will fail to decide and lastly, that the status of
marriages under Article 85 of the Civil Code before they are annulled is "voidable." LLcd

The petition must fail.
Certiorari as a special civil action can be availed of only if there is concurrence of the essential requisites, to
wit: (a) the tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial functions has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction
or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction, and (b) there is no appeal,
nor any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law for the purpose of annulling or
modifying the proceeding. 13 There must be a capricious, arbitrary and whimsical exercise of power for it to
prosper. 14
A reading of the assailed order, however, shows that the respondent court did not abuse its discretion in
denying petitioner's motion to dismiss, pertinent portions of which are quoted hereunder, to wit:
"The arguments of both parties judiciously and objectively assessed and
the pertinent laws applied, the Court finds that a motion to dismiss at this
juncture is inappropriate considering the peculiar nature of this special
proceeding as distinguished from an ordinary civil action. At the outset, this
proceeding was not adversarial in nature and the petitioner was not called
upon to assert a cause of action against a particular defendant.
Furthermore, the State has a vital interest in the maintenance of the
proceedings, not only because of the taxes due it, but also because if no
heirs qualify, the State shall acquire the estate by escheat.
"xxx xxx xxx
"The court rules, for the purpose of establishing the personality of the
petitioner to file and maintain this special proceedings, that in the case at
bench, the body of the decision determines the nature of the action which
is for annulment, not declaration of nullity.
"The oppositor's contention that the fallo of the questioned decision
(Annex "A" Motion) prevails over the body thereof is not without any
qualification. It holds true only when the dispositive portion of a final
decision is definite, clear and unequivocal and can be wholly given effect
without need of interpretation or construction.
"Where there is ambiguity or uncertainty, the opinion or body of the
decision may be referred to for purposes of construing the judgment" (78
SCRA 541 citing Morelos v. Go Chin Ling; and Heirs of Juan Presto v.
Galang). The reason is that the dispositive portion must find support from
the decision's ratio decidendi.
"Per decision of the Court of First Instance Branch IX of Quezon City,
marked as Annex "A" of oppositor's motion, the marriage of Emilio
Aguinaldo Suntay and Isabel Cojuangco-Suntay was annulled on the basis
of Art. 85 par. 3 of the Civil Code which refers to marriages which are
considered voidable. Petitioner being conceived and born of a voidable
marriage before the decree of annulment, she is considered legitimate (Art.
89, par. 2, Civil Code of the Phils.)." 15
The trial court correctly ruled that "a motion to dismiss at this juncture is inappropriate." The 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure governs the procedure to be observed in actions, civil or criminal and special proceedings.''
16 The Rules do not only apply to election cases, land registration, cadastral, naturalization and insolvency
proceedings, and other cases not therein provided for. cdll
Special proceedings being one of the actions under the coverage of the Rules on Civil Procedure, a motion
to dismiss filed thereunder would fall under Section 1, Rule 16 thereof. Said rule provides that the motion to
dismiss may be filed "within the time for but before filing the answer to the complaint." Clearly, the motion
should have been filed on or before the filing of petitioner's opposition 17 which is the counterpart of an
answer in ordinary civil actions.
Not only was petitioner's motion to dismiss filed out of time, it was filed almost two years after respondent
Isabel was already through with the presentation of her witnesses and evidence and petitioner had
presented two witnesses. The filing of the motion to dismiss is not only improper but also dilatory.
The respondent court, far from deviating or straying off course from established jurisprudence on this
matter, as petitioner asserts, had in fact faithfully observed the law and legal precedents in this case. In fact,
the alleged conflict between the body of the decision and the dispositive portion thereof which created the
ambiguity or uncertainty in the decision of the CFI of Rizal is reconcilable. The legal basis for setting aside
the marriage of respondent Isabel's parents is clear under paragraph 3, Article 85 of the New Civil Code,
the law in force prior to the enactment of the Family Code.
Petitioner, however, strongly insists that the dispositive portion of the CFI decision has categorically
declared that the marriage of respondent Isabel's parents is "null and void" and that the legal effect of such
declaration is that the marriage from its inception is void and the children born out of said marriage are
illegitimate. Such argument cannot be sustained. Articles 80, 81, 82 and 83 18 of the New Civil Code
classify what marriages are void while Article 85 enumerates the causes for which a marriage may be
annulled. 19
The fundamental distinction between void and voidable marriages is that a void marriage is deemed never
to have taken place at all. The effects of void marriages, with respect to property relations of the spouses
are provided for under Article 144 of the Civil Code. Children born of such marriages who are called natural
children by legal fiction have the same status, rights and obligations as acknowledged natural children
under Article 89 20 irrespective of whether or not the parties to the void marriage are in good faith or in
bad faith.
On the other hand, a voidable marriage, is considered valid and produces all its civil effects, until it is set
aside by final judgment of a competent court in an action for annulment. Juridically, the annulment of a
marriage dissolves the special contract as if it had never been entered into but the law makes express
provisions to prevent the effects of the marriage from being totally wiped out. The status of children born in
voidable marriages is governed by the second paragraph of Article 89 which provides that:
"Children conceived of voidable marriages before the decree of annulment
shall be considered legitimate; and children conceived thereafter shall have
the same status, rights and obligations as acknowledged natural children,
and are also called natural children by legal fiction.'' 21 (Emphasis supplied)
Stated otherwise, the annulment of "the marriage by the court abolishes the legal character of
the society formed by the putative spouses, but it cannot destroy the juridical consequences
which the marital union produced during its continuance." 22
Indeed, the terms "annul" and "null and void" have different legal connotations and implications. Annul
means to reduce to nothing; annihilate; obliterate; to make void or of no effect; to nullify; to abolish; to do
away with 23 whereas null and void is something that does not exist from the beginning. A marriage that is
annulled presupposes that it subsists but later ceases to have legal effect when it is terminated through a
court action. But in nullifying a marriage, the court simply declares a status or condition which already exists
from the very beginning. cdrep
There is likewise no merit in petitioner's argument that it is the dispositive portion of the decision which
must control as to whether or not the marriage of respondent Isabel's parents was void or voidable. Such
argument springs from a miscomprehension of the judgment in Civil Case No. Q-7180 and the erroneous
premise that there is a conflict between the body of the decision and its dispositive portion.
Parenthetically, it is an elementary principle of procedure that the resolution of the court in a given issue as
embodied in the dispositive part of a decision or order is the controlling factor as to settlement of rights of
the parties and the questions presented, notwithstanding statement in the body of the decision or order
which may be somewhat confusing, 24 the same is not without a qualification. The foregoing rule holds true
only when the dispositive part of a final decision or order is definite, clear and unequivocal and can be
wholly given effect without need of interpretation or construction which usually is "the case where the
order or decision in question is that of a court not of record which is not constitutionally required to state
the facts and the law on which the judgment is based." 25
Assuming that a doubt or uncertainty exists between the dispositive portion and the body of the decision,
effort must be made to harmonize the whole body of the decision in order to give effect to the intention,
purpose and judgment of the court. In Republic v. de los Angeles 26 the Court said:
"Additionally, Article 10 of the Civil Code states that '[i]n case of doubt in
the interpretation or application of laws, it is presumed that the lawmaking
body intended right and justice to prevail.' This mandate of law, obviously
cannot be any less binding upon the courts in relation to its judgments.
". . . The judgment must be read in its entirety, and must be construed as a
whole so as to bring all of its parts into harmony as far as this can be done
by fair and reasonable interpretation and so as to give effect to every word
and part if possible, and to effectuate the intention and purpose of the
Court, consistent with the provisions of the organic law. (49 C.J.S., pp.
863-864" [Emphasis supplied]
Thus, a reading of the pertinent portions of the decision of the CFI of Rizal quoted earlier shows that the
marriage is voidable:
"It is the opinion of Dr. Aramil that the symptoms of the plaintiff's mental
aberration classified as schizophernia (sic) had made themselves manifest
even as early as 1955; that the disease worsened with time, until 1965
when he was actually placed under expert neuro-psychiatrict (sic)
treatment; that even if the subject has shown marked progress, he remains
bereft of adequate understanding of right and wrong.

"There is no controversy that the marriage between the parties was
effected on July 9, 1958, years after plaintiff's mental illness had set in. This
fact would justify a declaration of nullity of the marriage under Article 85 of
the Civil Code which provides:
"Art. 95 (sic) A marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes,
existing at the time of the marriage:
xxx xxx xxx
"(3) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party, after coming
to reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband and wife; LexLib
xxx xxx xxx
"There is a dearth of proof at the time of the marriage defendant knew
about the mental condition of plaintiff; and there is proof that plaintiff
continues to be without sound reason. The charges in this very complaint
add emphasis to the findings of the neuro-psychiatrist handling the patient,
that plaintiff really lives more in fancy than in reality, a strong indication of
schizophernia (sic)." 27
Inevitably, the decision of the CFI of Rizal declared null and void the marriage of respondent
Isabel's parents based on paragraph 3, Article 85 of the New Civil Code. The legal
consequences as to the rights of the children are therefore governed by the first clause of the
second paragraph of Article 89. A contrary interpretation would be anathema to the rule just
abovementioned. Based on said provision the children of Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay and Isabel
Cojuangco-Suntay who were conceived and born prior to the decree of the trial court setting
aside their marriage on October 3, 1967 are considered legitimate. For purposes of seeking
appointment as estate administratrix, the legitimate grandchildren, including respondent
Isabel, may invoke their successional right of representation in the estate of their grandmother
Cristina Aguinaldo Suntay after their father, Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay, had predeceased their
grandmother. This is, however, without prejudice to a determination by the courts of whether
the Letters of Administration may be granted to her. Neither do the Court adjudged herein
the successional rights of the personalities involved over the decedent's estate.
It would not therefore be amiss to reiterate at this point what the Court, speaking through Chief Justice Ruiz
Castro, emphasized to "all magistrates of all levels of the judicial hierarchy that extreme degree of care
should be exercised in the formulation of the dispositive portion of a decision, because it is this portion that
is to be executed once the decision becomes final. The adjudication of the rights and obligations of those
parties, and the dispositions made as well as the directions and instructions given by the court in the
premises in conformity with the body of the decision, must all be spelled out clearly, distinctly and
unequivocally leaving absolutely no room for dispute, debate or interpretation. 28
WHEREFORE, finding no grave abuse of discretion, the instant petition is DISMISSED. LLjur
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, Puno and Mendoza, JJ ., concur.
Footnotes
* Should read Isabel Aguinaldo Cojuangco Suntay.
1. Allegedly for parricide.
2. Court of First Instance (CFI) of Rizal, Branch 9, Quezon City.
3. Decision dated October 3, 1967 of the CFI of Rizal penned by Judge Lourdes P. San Diego, p. 3;
Annex "A" of Petition; Rollo, pp. 37-41.
4. Ibid., pp. 3-5; Rollo, pp. 39-41.
5. Ibid.
6. Annex "I" of the Petition; Rollo, pp. 111-119.
7. Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 78.
8. Annex "I", Petition.
9. Annex "J", Petition; Rollo, pp. 116-118.
10. Motion to Dismiss, Annex "A" of Petition; Rollo, pp. 31-36.
11. Order of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 78; Annex "D" of the Petition;
Rollo, pp. 60-61.
12. Order of the RTC of Malolos, Bulacan. Branch 78 Annex "H" of the Petition; Rollo, p. 110.
13. Sempio v. Court of Appeals, 263 SCRA 617 (1996).
14. Zarate, Jr. v. Olegario, 263 SCRA 1 (1996).
15. Annex "D", Petition; Rollo, pp. 60-61.
16. "Rules 1 & 3, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
17. February 7, 1996.
18. Article 80. The following marriages shall be void from the beginning:
(1) Those contracted under the ages of sixteen and fourteen years by male and
female respectively, even with the consent of the parents;
(2) Those solemnized by any person not legally authorized to perform marriages;
(3) Those solemnized without a marriage license, save marriages of exceptional
character;
(4) Bigamous or polygamous marriages not falling under Article 83, number 2;
(5) Incestuous marriages mentioned in Article 81;
(6) Those where one or both contracting parties have been found guilty of killing of
the spouse of either of them;
(7) Those between stepbrothers and stepsisters and other marriages specified in
Article 82, (n)
Article 81. Marriage between the following are incestuous and void from their
performance, whether the relationship between the parties be legitimate or
illegitimate;
(1) Between ascendants and descendants of any degree;
(2) Between brothers and sisters, whether of the full or half blood;
(3) Between collateral relatives by blood within the fourth degree. (28a)
Article 82. The following marriages shall also be void from the beginning:
(1) Between stepfathers and stepdaughters, and stepmothers and stepsons;
(2) Between the adopting father or mother and the adopted, between the latter
and the surviving spouse of the former, and between the former and the
surviving spouse of the latter;
(3) Between the legitimate children of the adopter and the adopted. (28a)
Article 83. Any marriage subsequently contracted by any person during the lifetime
of the first spouses of such person with any person other than such first spouse shall
be illegal and void from its performance, unless:
(1) The first marriage was annulled or dissolved; or
(2) The first spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years at the time of the
second marriage without the spouse present having news of the
absentee being alive, or if the absentee, though he has been absent for
less than seven years, is generally considered as dead and believed to
be so by the spouse present at the time of contracting such subsequent
marriage, or if the absentee is presumed dead according to Articles 390
and 391. The marriage so contracted shall be valid in any of the three
cases until declared null and void by a competent court. (29a)
Article 84. No marriage license shall be issued to a widow till after three hundred
days following the death of her husband, unless in the meantime she has given
birth to a child. (n)
19. Article 85 of the New Civil Code reads:
"A marriage may be annulled for any of the following causes, existing at
the time of the marriage:
(1) That the party in whose behalf it is sought to have the marriage annulled was
between the ages of sixteen and twenty years, if male, or between the
ages of fourteen and eighteen years, if female, and the marriage was
solemnized without the consent of the parent, guardian or person having
authority over the party, unless after attaining the ages of twenty or
eighteen years, as the case may be, such party freely cohabited with the
other and both lived together as husband and wife;
(2) In a subsequent marriage under Article 83, Number 2, that the former husband
or wife believed to be dead was in fact living and the marriage with such
former husband or wife was then in force;
(3) That either party was of unsound mind, unless such party, after coming to
reason, freely cohabited with the other as husband or wife;
(4) That the consent of either party was obtained by fraud, unless such party
afterwards, with full knowledge of the facts constituting the fraud, freely
cohabited with the other as her husband or his wife, as the case may be;
(5) That the consent of either party was obtained by force or intimidation, unless
the violence or threat having disappeared, such party, afterwards freely
cohabited with the other as her husband or his wife, as the case may be;
(6) That either party was, at the time of marriage, physically incapable of entering
into the married state, and such incapacity continues, and appears to be
incurable.
20. Article 89. Children conceived or born of marriages which are void from the beginning shall have the
same status, rights and obligations as acknowledged natural children, and are called natural
children by legal fiction.
xxx xxx xxx
Suntay vs. Suntay GR No. 132524
Petitioner Federico is the oppositor to respondent Isabels Petition for Letters of Administration
over the estate of Cristina A. Suntay who had died without leaving a will. The decedent is the wife
of Federico and the grandmother of Isabel. Isabels father Emilio, had predeceased his mother
Cristina.
The marriage of Isabels parents had previously been decalred by the CFI as null and void.
Federico anchors his oppostion on this fact, alleging based on Art. 992 of the CC, that Isabel has
no right to succeed by right of representation as she is an illegitimate child. The trial court had
denied Federicos Motion to Dismiss, hence this petition for certiorari. Federico contends that,
inter alia, that the dispositive portion of the the decision declaring the marriage of Isabels parents
null and void be upheld.
Issue:
In case of conict between the body of the decision and the dispostive portion thereof, which
should prevail? Related thereto, was the marriage of Isabels parents a case of a void or voidable
marriage?
Whether or not Isabel is an legitimate child?
Ruling: Petition dismissed
Art. 10 of the Civil Code states that in case of doubt in the interpretation and application of laws, it
is presumed that the lawmaking body intended right and justice to prevail. This is also applicable
and binding upon courts in relation to its judgment. While the dispositive portion of the CFI
decision states that the marriage be declared null and void, the body had shown that the legal
basis was par. 3 Art. 85 of the Civil Code, which was in effect at the time. Art. 85 enumerates the
causes for which a marriage may be annulled. As such the conict between the body and the
dispositive portion of the decision may be reconcilable as noted by the Supreme Court.
The fundamental distinction between void and voidable marriages is that void marriage is
deemed never to have taken place at all. The effects of void marriages, with respect to property
relations of the spouses are provided for under Article 144 of the Civil Code. Children born of
such marriages who are called natural children by legal ction have the same status, rights and
obligations as acknowledged natural children under Article 89 irrespective of whether or not the
parties to the void marriage are in good faith or in bad faith.
On the other hand, a voidable marriage, is considered valid and produces all its civil effects, until
it is set aside by nal judgment of a competent court in an action for annulment. Juridically, the
annulment of a marriage dissolves the special contract as if it had never been entered into but the
law makes express provisions to prevent the effects of the marriage from being totally wiped out.
The status of children born in voidable marriages is governed by the second paragraph of Article
89 which provides that:
Children conceived of voidable marriages before the decree of annulment shall be considered
legitimate; and children conceived thereafter shall have the same status, rights and obligations as
acknowledged natural children, and are also called natural children by legal ction.
In view thereof, the status of Isabel would be covered by the second paragraph of Article 89 of
the Civil Code which provides that children conceived of voidable marriages before the decree
of annulment shall be considered legitimate.
SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 142947. March 19, 2002.]
FRANCISCO N. VILLANUEVA, JR., petitioner, vs. THE HON. COURT OF
APPEALS and ROQUE VILLADORES, respondents.
Rico & Associates for petitioner.
The Solicitor General for public respondent.
Cecilio V. Suarez, Jr. for private respondent.
SYNOPSIS
Petitioner Villanueva, Jr. filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against several parties, among them, IBC 13.
When judgment was rendered in petitioner's favor, IBC 13 appealed at the NLRC and filed an appeal bond.
The surety, however, issued falsified documents for the appeal bond. Thus, two complaints for falsification
of public documents were filed, including herein respondent Villadores as an accused in said criminal cases.
Subsequently, the private prosecutor for petitioner Villanueva, Jr., filed a motion to admit Amended
Informations alleging damages sustained by petitioner Villanueva, Jr. as a result of the crimes committed by
the accused. The trial court admitted the Amended Informations. The CA also found no grave abuse of
discretion on the part of the trial court in admitting the Amended Informations. Subsequently, however,
respondent Villadores moved for the disqualification of the private prosecutor for petitioner Villanueva, Jr.
in line with the pronouncement of the CA in its decision that petitioner Villanueva, Jr. could not have
sustained damages from the crimes because it was IBC 13 who secured the falsified surety bond to appeal
from the labor case wherein petitioner Villanueva, Jr. prevailed. The trial court denied the motion for
disqualification on the ground that the aforecited reason for the motion was a mere obiter dictum, which
lacks force for adjudication. On certiorari, however, the CA reversed the trial court's orders by: enjoining the
private prosecutor from appearing for petitioner Villanueva, Jr. in the criminal cases; and in ordering the
name of petitioner Villanueva, Jr., appearing as the offended party, be stricken from the records.
The Supreme Court affirmed the CA decision, ruling: that the pronouncement of the CA to the effect that
petitioner Villanueva, Jr. is not an offended party in the criminal cases is not an obiter dictum as it touched
upon a matter clearly raised by respondent Villadores in his petition assailing the admission of the
Amended Informations. While the CA admitted that the addition of petition Villanueva, Jr. as an offended
party was not necessary, it held that the admission of the amended informations due to that amendment
did not by itself constitute grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. Otherwise stated,
there was an error of judgment, but such did not amount to an error of jurisdiction. HSATIC
SYLLABUS
1. REMEDIAL LAW; ACTIONS; JUDGMENT; OBITER DICTUM, DEFINED; EFFECT; CASE AT BAR. All the
foregoing issues boil down to the issue of whether or not the pronouncement of the appellate court in CA-
G.R. SP No. 46103 to the effect that petitioner Villanueva, Jr. is not an offended party in Criminal Cases
Nos. 94-138744-45 is obiter dictum. An obiter dictum has been defined as an opinion expressed by a court
upon some question of law which is not necessary to the decision of the case before it. It is a remark made,
or opinion expressed, by a judge, in his decision upon a cause, "by the way," that is, incidentally or
collaterally, and not directly upon the question before him, or upon a point not necessarily involved in the
determination of the cause, or introduced by way of illustration, or analogy or argument. Such are not
binding as precedent. Based on the foregoing, the pronouncement of the appellate court in CA-G.R. SP
No. 46103 is not an obiter dictum as it touched upon a matter clearly raised by respondent Villadores in his
petition assailing the admission of the Amended Informations. Among the issues upon which the petition
for certiorari in CA-G.R. SP No. 46103 was anchored, was "whether Francisco N. Villanueva, Jr. is the
offended party. Argument on whether petitioner Villanueva, Jr. was the offended party was, thus, clearly
raised by respondent Villadores. The body of the decision contains discussion on that point and it clearly
mentioned certain principles of law. It has been held that an adjudication on any point within the issues
presented by the case cannot be considered as obiter dictum, and this rule applies to all pertinent
questions, although only incidentally involved, which are presented and decided in the regular course of the
consideration of the case, and led up to the final conclusion, and to any statement as to matter on which
the decision is predicated. Accordingly, a point expressly decided does not lose its value as a precedent
because the disposition of the case is, or might have been, made on some other ground, or even though,
by reason of other points in the case, the result reached might have been the same if the court had held, on
the particular point, otherwise than it did.
2. ID.; SPECIAL CIVIL ACTIONS; CERTIORARI; PROPER REMEDY TO CORRECT ERRORS OF
JURISDICTION AND NOT ERRORS OF JUDGMENT; CASE AT BAR. Clearly then, while the appellate
court in CA-G.R. SP No. 46103 admitted that the addition of petitioner Villanueva, Jr. as an offended party
is not necessary, it held that the admission of the amended informations due to the amendment to include
petitioner Villanueva, Jr. did not by itself amount to grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess
of jurisdiction. Otherwise stated, there is an error of judgment but such did not amount to an error of
jurisdiction. The special civil action for certiorari, which was availed of respondent Villadores, is a remedy
designed for the correction of errors of jurisdiction and not errors of judgment. When a court exercised its
jurisdiction an error committed while so engaged does not deprive it of the jurisdiction being exercised
when the error is committed. If it did, every error committed by a court would deprive it of its jurisdiction
and every erroneous judgment would be a void judgment. Thus, an error of judgment that the court may
commit in the exercise of its jurisdiction is not correctible through the original special civil action of
certiorari. In effect, the appellate court in CA-G.R. SP No. 46103 merely held that respondent Villadores
chose the wrong remedy.
D E C I S I O N
DE LEON, JR., J p:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals dated April 12, 2000
in CA-G.R. SP No. 50235 reversing the two (2) Orders dated August 27, 1998 2 and December 4, 1998 3 of
the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 41, in Criminal Cases Nos. 94-138744-45 which denied
respondent Roque Villadores's motion for disqualification of Rico and Associates as private prosecutor for
petitioner Francisco N. Villanueva, Jr., and the motion for reconsideration thereof, respectively.
Respondent Villadores is one of the accused in the amended informations in Criminal Cases Nos.
94-138744 and 94-138745 entitled, "People of the Philippines v. Atty. Tomas Bernardo, Roque Villadores,
Alberto Adriano and Rolando Advincula," for Falsification of Public Document before the Regional Trial
Court of Manila, Branch 41.
It appears that petitioner Villanueva, Jr. filed a complaint for illegal dismissal against several parties, among
them, IBC 13. When the labor arbiter 4 ruled in favor of petitioner Villanueva, Jr., IBC 13 appealed to the
National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). 5 As an appeal bond, IBC 13 filed Surety Bond No. G (16)
00136 issued by BF General Insurance Company, Inc. (BF) with the Confirmation Letter dated September
20, 1993 supposedly issued by BF's Vice-President. However, both documents were subsequently found to
be falsified.
Thus, the two (2) complaints for falsification of public document were filed before the Manila City
Prosecutor's Office. The charges against respondent Villadores and Atty. Eulalio Diaz III were dismissed by
the City Prosecutor's Office which, however, found probable cause against the other respondents.
Nonetheless, on a petition for review before the Department of Justice (DOJ), the latter affirmed the
dismissal against Diaz but ordered the inclusion of respondent Villadores as an accused in the two (2)
criminal cases. Accordingly, the original informations were amended to include respondent Villadores
among those charged.
Following the arraignment of respondent Villadores, the private prosecutor, Rico and Associates, filed anew
a Motion to Admit Amended Informations alleging damages sustained by private complainant, herein
petitioner Villanueva, Jr., as a result of the crimes committed by the accused. The incident was referred to
the City Prosecutor's Office by the trial court. In compliance, the fiscal's office submitted a Motion to Admit
Amended Informations with the following amendment: "to the prejudice of Francisco N. Villanueva, Jr., and
of public interest and in violation of public faith and destruction of truth as therein proclaimed."
The Motion was granted by the trial court and the amended informations were admitted in an Order dated
October 10, 1997. Respondent Villadores subsequently filed a Manifestation and/or Motion for
Reconsideration but the same was denied in an Order dated October 24, 1997.
Thus, respondent Villadores interposed on November 26, 1997 a petition for certiorari with the Court of
Appeals. Said petition, which was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 46103, sought to annul the Order of the trial
court dated October 10, 1997 which admitted the second amended informations, as well as the Order
dated October 24, 1997 denying his motion for reconsideration thereof. 6
In a Decision dated June 22, 1998, the appellate court, acting thru its Eleventh Division, found that the trial
court committed no grave abuse of discretion in admitting the amended informations and dismissed the
petition of respondent Villadores. 7 The decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 46103 became final and executory on
July 18, 1998. 8

Subsequently, before Branch 41 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, respondent Villadores moved for the
disqualification of Rico and Associates as private prosecutor for petitioner Villanueva, Jr., 9 in line with the
following pronouncement of the appellate court in CA-G.R. SP No. 46103, to wit: 10
Incidentally, We are one with the petitioner when it argued that Francisco
N. Villanueva, Jr. is not the offended party in these cases. It must be
underscored that it was IBC 13 who secured the falsified surety bond for
the purpose of the appeal it had taken from an adverse judgment of the
labor case filed by Francisco N. Villanueva, Jr. himself and wherein the
latter prevailed. We see no reason how Villanueva could have sustained
damages as a result of the falsification of the surety appeal bond and its
confirmation letter when it could have even redounded to his own benefit if
the appeal would be dismissed as a result of the forgery. If there be anyone
who was prejudiced, it was IBC 13 when it purchased a fake surety bond.
Rico and Associates opposed said motion on the ground that the above-quoted
pronouncement of the appellate court is a mere obiter dictum. 11
In an Order 12 dated August 27, 1998 the trial court denied the motion for disqualification ratiocinating,
thus:
A reading of the aforecited decision of the Court of Appeals clearly shows
that the aforecited reason for the motion is a mere obiter dictum. As held
by the Supreme Court, an obiter dictum lacks force of adjudication. It is
merely an expression of an opinion with no binding force for purposes of
res judicata (City of Manila vs. Entote, June 28, 1974, 57 SCRA, 508-509).
What is controlling is the dispositive portion of the subject decision of the
Court of Appeals which denied due course and ordered dismissed the
petition of the movant questioning the Order of this Court granting the
Motion to Admit Informations and admitting the Amended Informations
that include the name of Francisco N. Villanueva, Jr. as the private offended
party, which in effect upheld and/or affirmed the questioned Order of this
Court admitting the amended informations.
Reconsideration 13 was sought by respondent Villadores but the same was denied by the trial
court in its Order dated December 4, 1998. 14
Thus, on January 7, 1999, respondent Villadores filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals,
docketed therein as CA-G.R. SP No. 50235, seeking the annulment of the trial court's Order dated August
27, 1998 denying the Motion for Disqualification as well as its subsequent Order dated December 4, 1998
denying reconsideration. 15
On April 12, 2000, the appellate court rendered its now challenged decision which reversed and set aside
the two (2) Orders of the trial court dated August 27, 1998 and December 4, 1998. The appellate court
directed that the name of petitioner Villanueva, Jr., appearing as the offended party in Criminal Cases Nos.
94-138744-45 be stricken out from the records. 16
Hence, this petition anchored on the following grounds: 17
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN ENJOINING RICO
& ASSOCIATES FROM APPEARING AS PRIVATE PROSECUTOR AND/OR
AS COUNSEL FOR FRANCISCO N. VILLANUEVA, JR., IN CRIMINAL CASE
NOS. 94-138744-45.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN FAILING TO
APPRECIATE THAT THE MATTER OF WHETHER OR NOT FRANCISCO N.
VILLANUEVA, JR. IS AN OFFENDED PARTY IN CRIMINAL CASE NOS.
94-138744-45 HAD BEEN RESOLVED WITH FINALITY IN THE
AFFIRMATIVE IN CA-G.R. SP NO. 46103 WHERE THE HON. COURT OF
APPEALS UPHELD THE AMENDMENT OF THE INFORMATIONS IN SAID
CASES TO STATE THAT THE CRIMES WERE COMMITTED TO THE
PREJUDICE OF FRANCISCO N. VILLANUEVA, JR., AND PURSUANT TO
THE DOCTRINE OF RES JUDICATA, THE SAME COULD NO LONGER BE
RELITIGATED IN CA-G.R. SP NO. 50235.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN FAILING TO
CONSIDER THE PRONOUNCEMENT IN CA-G.R. SP NO. 46103 THAT
FRANCISCO N. VILLANUEVA, JR. IS NOT AN OFFENDED PARTY, AS A
MERE OBITER DICTUM.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN FAILING TO
APPRECIATE THAT FRANCISCO N. VILLANUEVA, JR., WAS IN FACT AN
AGGRIEVED PARTY.
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN ORDERING THE
NAME OF FRANCISCO N. VILLANUEVA, JR., APPEARING AS THE
OFFENDED PARTY BE STRICKEN FROM THE RECORDS, DESPITE THE
FACT THAT IN CA-G.R. SP NO. 46103, IT UPHELD THE AMENDMENT OF
THE INFORMATIONS SO AS TO STATE THAT THE CRIMES CHARGED
WERE COMMITTED TO THE PREJUDICE OF FRANCISCO N.
VILLANUEVA, JR.
All the foregoing issues boil down to the issue of whether or not the pronouncement of the appellate court
in CA-G.R. SP No. 46103 to the effect that petitioner Villanueva, Jr. is not an offended party in Criminal
Cases Nos. 94-138744-45 is obiter dictum.
An obiter dictum has been defined as an opinion expressed by a court upon some question of law which is
not necessary to the decision of the case before it. It is a remark made, or opinion expressed, by a judge, in
his decision upon a cause, "by the way," that is, incidentally or collaterally, and not directly upon the
question before him, or upon a point not necessarily involved in the determination of the cause, or
introduced by way of illustration, or analogy or argument. Such are not binding as precedent. 18
Based on the foregoing, the pronouncement of the appellate court in CA-G.R. SP No. 46103 is not an
obiter dictum as it touched upon a matter clearly raised by respondent Villadores in his petition assailing
the admission of the Amended Informations. Among the issues upon which the petition for certiorari in CA-
G.R. SP No. 46103 was anchored, was "whether Francisco N. Villanueva, Jr. is the offended party. 19
Argument on whether petitioner Villanueva, Jr. was the offended party was, thus, clearly raised by
respondent Villadores. The body of the decision contains discussion on that point and it clearly mentioned
certain principles of law.
It has been held that an adjudication on any point within the issues presented by the case cannot be
considered as obiter dictum, and this rule applies to all pertinent questions, although only incidentally
involved, which are presented and decided in the regular course of the consideration of the case, and led
up to the final conclusion, and to any statement as to matter on which the decision is predicated.
Accordingly, a point expressly decided does not lose its value as a precedent because the disposition of the
case is, or might have been, made on some other ground, or even though, by reason of other points in the
case, the result reached might have been the same if the court had held, on the particular point, otherwise
than it did. A decision which the case could have turned on is not regarded as obiter dictum merely
because, owing to the disposal of the contention, it was necessary to consider another question, nor can an
additional reason in a decision, brought forward after the case has been disposed of on one ground, be
regarded as dicta. So, also, where a case presents two (2) or more points, any one of which is sufficient to
determine the ultimate issue, but the court actually decides all such points, the case as an authoritative
precedent as to every point decided, and none of such points can be regarded as having the status of a
dictum, and one point should not be denied authority merely because another point was more dwelt on
and more fully argued and considered, nor does a decision on one proposition make statements of the
court regarding other propositions dicta. 20
The decision of the appellate court in CA-G.R. SP No. 46103 allegedly show a conflict between the
pronouncements in the body of the decision and the dispositive portion thereof. However, when that
decision is carefully and thoroughly read, such conflict is revealed to be more illusory than real. In denying
the petition for certiorari in CA-G.R. SP No. 46103, the appellate court had this to say:
At the centerfold of this controversy is Section 14 of Rule 110, 1st
paragraph, which is quoted hereunder:
SEC. 14. Amendment. The information or complaint may be
amended, in substance or form, without leave of court, at any
time before the accused pleads, and thereafter and during the
trial as to all matters of form, by leave and at the discretion of
the court, when the same can be done without prejudice to the
rights of the accused."
Needless to state, amendment of a criminal charge sheet depends much
on the time when the change is requested. If before arraignment it is a
matter of right, no leave of court is necessary and the prosecution is free to
do so even in matters of substance and in form. On the other hand, the
more complicated situation involves an amendment sought after the
accused had already been arraigned. This time amendment can only be
made by a prior leave and at the discretion of the court, only as to matters
of form when the same can be done without prejudice to the rights of the
accused [Draculan vs. Donato; 140 SCRA 425 (1985); Teehankee vs.
Madayag, 207 SCRA 134 (1992)].
Relative to the second instance, the primary consideration is whether the
intended amendment is only as to matter of form and same could be done
without prejudice to the rights of the accused. Substantial amendment as a
consequence is proscribed. In essence, substantial matters in the complaint
or information is the recital of facts constituting the offense charged and
determinative of the jurisdiction of the court. All other matters are merely
of form [Almeda vs. Villaluz, 66 SCRA 38 (1975); Teehankee vs. Madayag,
supra].
In other words, even if the amendment is only as to matter of form, one
other criteria must accompany it for its admission, which is, that it should
not be prejudicial to the accused. Conformably, the test as to when the
rights of an accused are prejudiced by the amendment of a complaint or
information is, when a defense under the complaint or information, as it
originally stood, would no longer be available after the amendment is
made, and when any evidence the accused might have, would no longer
be available after the amendment is made, and when any evidence the
accused might have, would be inapplicable to the complaint or information
as amended [People vs. Montenegro, 159 SCRA 236 (1988); Teehankee vs.
Madayag, supra].

Given the above aphorisms, the inclusion of the name of Francisco N.
Villanueva, Jr. as the prejudiced complainant in the cases appears to be not
substantial. It did not change, alter or modify the crime charged nor any
possible defense. Likewise, any evidence the accused might have under his
defense in the original informations is still very much available to him and
applicable to the amended informations. In sum, accused petitioner is not
in any way prejudiced in his rights with such amendment which, in Our
considered opinion, is only a matter of form under the standards laid down
in the cases above-cited.
What seems to be more crucial here is the fact that the crime charged in
the two informations is falsification of public document committed by a
private individual defined and penalized under Article 172, paragraph 1, of
the Revised Penal Code. Accordingly, the evil sought to be punished and
sanctioned by the offense of falsification of public document is the violation
of the public faith and the destruction of the trust as therein solemnly
proclaimed [People vs. Pacana, 47 Phil 48, citing Decisions of the Supreme
Court of Spain of December 23, 1886; People vs. Mateo, 25 Phil. 324, Po
Giok To, 96 Phil. 913; see Revised Penal Code, Luis B. Reyes, 13th Division,
p. 211 and Aquino, 1976 ed., Vol. 2, p. 984]. Apropos, the crime of
falsification of public document does not require for its essential elements
damage or intent to cause damage. In the final analysis. the inclusion of the
name of Francisco N. Villanueva. Jr. would then be merely a superfluity in
the information, a meaningless surplusage therein. In fact, it is even highly
doubted if civil damages may be awarded in such transgression of the law.
Viewed from the above ratiocinations, We find no grave abuse of discretion
on the part of the lower court in admitting the second amended
informations albeit such amendment is totally irrelevant and unnecessary to
the crime charged. The mere fact that the court decides the question
wrongly is utterly immaterial to the question of jurisdiction [Estrada vs. Sto
Domingo, 28 SCRA 891 (1969)]. And writs of certiorari are issued only for
the correction of errors of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction. It cannot be legally used for
any other purpose [Silverio vs. Court of Appeals, 141 SCRA 527 (1986)].
Incidentally, We are in one with the petitioner when it argued that Francisco
N. Villanueva, Jr. is not the offended party in these cases. It must be
underscored that it was IBC 13 who secured the falsified surety bond for
the purpose of the appeal it had taken from an adverse judgment of the
labor case filed by Francisco N. Villanueva, Jr. himself and wherein the
latter prevailed. We see no reason how Villanueva could have sustained
damages as a result of the falsification of the surety appeal bond and its
confirmation letter when it could have even redounded to his own benefit if
the appeal would be dismissed as a result of the forgery. If there be anyone
who was prejudiced, it was IBC 13 when it purchased a fake surety bond.
21
Clearly then, while the appellate court in CA-G.R. SP No. 46103 admitted that the addition of petitioner
Villanueva, Jr. as an offended party is not necessary, it held that the admission of the amended informations
due to the amendment to include petitioner Villanueva, Jr. did not by itself amount to grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Otherwise stated, there is an error of judgment but
such did not amount to an error of jurisdiction.
The special civil action for certiorari, which was availed of respondent Villadores, is a remedy designed for
the correction of errors of jurisdiction and not errors of judgment. When a court exercised its jurisdiction an
error committed while so engaged does not deprive it of the jurisdiction being exercised when the error is
committed. If it did, every error committed by a court would deprive it of its jurisdiction and every
erroneous judgment would be a void judgment. Thus, an error of judgment that the court may commit in
the exercise of its jurisdiction is not correctible through the original special civil action of certiorari. 22 In
effect, the appellate court in CA-G.R. SP No. 46103 merely held that respondent Villadores chose the
wrong remedy.
It is significant to mention that the intervention of petitioner Villanueva, Jr. in the criminal cases as an
offended party is apparently predicated 23 on the reduction by the NLRC, in IBC's appeal of the illegal
dismissal case, of the monetary award to which he is entitled, despite finding the appeal as not perfected
due to the posting of the spurious appeal bond. 24 However, such alleged error should have been brought
by petitioner Villanueva, Jr. to the appropriate forum, 25 and not raised in criminal cases before the trial
court as a ground for his inclusion as a "prejudiced party."
In view of all the foregoing, the instant petition, being devoid of merit, must fail.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED, and the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated April
12, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No. 50235 is AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, Mendoza, Quisumbing and Buena, JJ., concur.
Footnotes
1. Penned by Associate Justice Bernardo P. Abesamis and concurred in by Associate Justices Conchita
Carpio Morales and Candido V. Rivera, Former Fourth Division, Rollo, pp. 47-53.
2. Penned by Judge Rodolfo A. Ponferrada, Rollo, pp. 55-56.
3. Rollo, p. 54.
4. Penned by Labor Arbiter Oswald B. Lorenzo in NLRC-NCR Case No. 00-03-01890-92.
5. Docketed as NLRC-NCR CA No. 005714-93.
6. Rollo, pp. 255-266.
7. Penned by Associate Justice Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr. and concurred in by Associate Justices Fermin
A. Martin, Jr. and Teodoro P. Regino, Rollo, pp. 284-290.
8. Rollo, p. 291.
9. Rollo, pp. 292-294.
10. Rollo, pp. 289-290.
11. Rollo, pp. 295-299.
12. See Note No. 2, supra.
13. Rollo, pp. 300-303.
14. See Note No. 3, supra.
25. In St. Martin Funeral Homes v. NLRC, 295 SCRA 494 [1998], the Supreme Court En Banc declared
that "all appeals from the NLRC to the Supreme Court via petition for certiorari under Rule 65
of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure should henceforth be initially filed in the Court of Appeals
as the appropriate forum for relief desired in strict observance of the doctrine on the hierarchy
of courts."
VILLANUEVA- MIJARES ET. AL. vs. COURT OF APPEALS
April 12, 2000
FACTS: Felipe Villanueva left a 15,336-square-meter parcel of land in Kalibo, Capiz to his eight
children: Simplicio, Benito, Leon, Eustaquio, Camila, Fausta and Pedro. In 1952, Pedro declared under
his name 1/6 portion of the property (1,905 sq. m.). He held the remaining properties in trust for his
co-heirs who demanded the subdivision of the property but to no avail. After Leons death in 1972,
private respondents discovered that the shares of Simplicio, Nicolasa, Fausta and Maria Baltazar had
been purchased by Leon through a deed of sale dated August 25, 1946 but registered only in 1971.
In July 1970, Leon also sold and partitioned the property in favor of petitioners, his children, who
thereafter secured separate and independent titles over their respective pro- indiviso shares.
Private respondents, who are also descendants of Felipe, led an action for partition with annulment
of documents and/or reconveyance and damages against petitioners. They contended that Leon
fraudulently obtained the sale in his favor through machinations and false pretenses. The RTC
declared that private respondents action had been barred by res judicata and that petitioners are
the legal owners of the property in question in accordance with the individual titles issued to them.
ISSUE: Whether or not laches apply against the minors property that was held in trust.
RULING: No. At the time of the signing of the Deed of Sale of August 26,1948, private respondents
Procerna, Prosperedad, Ramon and Rosa were minors. They could not be faulted for their failure to
le a case to recover their inheritance from their uncle Leon, since up to the age of majority, they
believed and considered Leon their co-heir administrator. It was only in 1975, not in 1948, that they
became aware of the actionable betrayal by their uncle. Upon learning of their uncles actions, they
led for recovery. Hence, the doctrine of stale demands formulated in Tijam cannot be applied here.
They did not sleep on their rights, contrary to petitioners assertion.
Furthermore, when Felipe Villanueva died, an implied trust was created by operation of law between
Felipes children and Leon, their uncle, as far as the 1/6 share of Felipe. Leons fraudulent titling of
Felipes 1/6 share was a betrayal of that implied trust.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-59743 May 31 1982
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF SUGAR WORKERS (NFSW), petitioner,
vs.
ETHELWOLDO R. OVEJERA, CENTRAL AZUCARERA DE LA CARLOTA (CAC), COL. ROGELIO
DEINLA, as Provincial Commander, 3311st P.C. Command, Negros Occidental, respondents.

PLANA, J:
This is a petition for prohibition seeking to annul the decision dated February 20, 1982 of Labor Arbiter
Ethelwoldo R. Ovejera of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) with station at the Regional
Arbitration Branch No. VI-A, Bacolod City, which, among others, declared illegal the ongoing strike of the
National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) at the Central Azucarera de la Carlota (CAC), and to restrain
the implementation thereof.
I. FACTS
1. NFSW has been the bargaining agent of CAC rank and file employees (about 1200 of more than 2000
personnel) and has concluded with CAC a collective bargaining agreement effective February 16, 1981
February 15, 1984. Under Art. VII, Sec. 5 of the said CBA
Bonuses The parties also agree to maintain the present practice on the grant of Christmas bonus, milling
bonus, and amelioration bonus to the extent as the latter is required by law.
The Christmas and milling bonuses amount to 1-" months' salary.
2. On November 28, 1981, NFSW struck allegedly to compel the payment of the 13th month pay under PD
851, in addition to the Christmas, milling and amelioration bonuses being enjoyed by CAC workers.
3. To settle the strike, a compromise agreement was concluded between CAC and NFSW on November
30,1981. Under paragraph 4 thereof
The parties agree to abide by the final decision of the Supreme Court in any case involving the 13th Month
Pay Law if it is clearly held that the employer is liable to pay a 13th month pay separate and distinct from
the bonuses already given.
4. As of November 30, 1981, G.R. No. 51254 (Marcopper Mining Corp. vs. Blas Ople and Amado Inciong,
Minister and Deputy Minister of Labor, respectively, and Marcopper Employees Labor Union, Petition for
certiorari and Prohibition) was still pending in the Supreme Court. The Petition had been dismissed on June
11, 1981 on the vote of seven Justices.
1
A motion for reconsideration thereafter filed was denied in a
resolution dated December 15, 1981, with only five Justices voting for denial. (3 dissented; 2 reserved their
votes: 4 did not take part.)
On December 18, 1981 the decision of June 11, 1981 having become final and executory entry of
judgment was made.
5. After the Marcopper decision had become final, NFSW renewed its demand that CAC give the 13th
month pay. CAC refused.
6. On January 22, 1982, NFSW filed with the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) Regional Office in
Bacolod City a notice to strike based on non-payment of the 13th month pay. Six days after, NFSW struck.
7. One day after the commencement of the strike, or on January 29, 1982, a report of the strike-vote was
filed by NFSW with MOLE.
8. On February 8, 1982, CAC filed a petition (R.A.B. Case No. 0110-82) with the Regional Arbitration Branch
VI-A, MOLE, at Bacolod City to declare the strike illegal, principally for being violative of Batas Pambansa
Blg. 130, that is, the strike was declared before the expiration of the 15-day cooling-off period for unfair
labor practice (ULP) strikes, and the strike was staged before the lapse of seven days from the submission to
MOLE of the result of the strike-vote.
9. After the submission of position papers and hearing, Labor Arbiter Ovejera declared the NFSW strike
illegal. The dispositive part of his decision dated February 20, 1982 reads:
Wherefore, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered:
1. Declaring the strike commenced by NFSW on January 28, 1982, illegal,
2. Directing the Central to resume operations immediately upon receipt hereof;
3. Directing the Central to accept back to work all employees appearing in its payroll as of January 28, 1982
except those covered by the February 1, 1982 memorandum on preventive suspension but without
prejudice to the said employees' instituting appropriate actions before this Ministry relative to whatever
causes of action they may have obtained proceeding from said memorandum;
4. Directing the Central to pay effective from the date of resumption of operations the salaries of those to
be placed on preventive suspension as per February 1, 1982 memorandum during their period of
preventive suspension; and
5. Directing, in view of the finding that the subject strike is illegal, NFSW, its officers, members, as well as
sympathizers to immediately desist from committing acts that may impair or impede the milling operations
of the Central
The law enforcement authorities are hereby requested to assist in the peaceful enforcement and
implementation of this Decision.
SO ORDERED.
10. On February 26, 1982, the NFSW by passing the NLRC filed the instant Petition for prohibition
alleging that Labor Arbiter Ovejera, CAC and the PC Provincial Commander of Negros Occidental were
threatening to immediately enforce the February 20, 1982 decision which would violate fundamental rights
of the petitioner, and praying that
WHEREFORE, on the foregoing considerations, it is prayed of the Honorable Court that on the Petition for
Preliminary Injunction, an order, after hearing, issue:
1. Restraining implementation or enforcement of the Decision of February 20, 1982;
2. Enjoining respondents to refrain from the threatened acts violative of the rights of strikers and peaceful
picketers;
3. Requiring maintenance of the status quo as of February 20, 1982, until further orders of the Court;
and on the Main Petition, judgment be rendered after hearing.
1. Declaring the Decision of February 2O, l982 null and void;
2. Making the preliminary injunction permanent;
3. Awarding such other relief as may be just in the premises.
11. Hearing was held, after which the parties submitted their memoranda. No restraining order was issued.
II ISSUES
The parties have raised a number of issues, including some procedural points. However, considering their
relative importance and the impact of their resolution on ongoing labor disputes in a number of industry
sectors, we have decided in the interest of expediency and dispatch to brush aside non-substantial
items and reduce the remaining issues to but two fundamental ones:
1. Whether the strike declared by NFSW is illegal, the resolution of which mainly depends on the mandatory
or directory character of the cooling-off period and the 7-day strike ban after report to MOLE of the result
of a strike-vote, as prescribed in the Labor Code.
2. Whether under Presidential Decree 851 (13th Month Pay Law), CAC is obliged to give its workers a 13th
month salary in addition to Christmas, milling and amelioration bonuses, the aggregate of which admittedly
exceeds by far the disputed 13th month pay. (See petitioner's memorandum of April 12, 1982, p. 2; CAC
memorandum of April 2, 1982, pp. 3-4.) Resolution of this issue requires an examination of the thrusts and
application of PD 851.
III. DISCUSSION
1. Articles 264 and 265 of the Labor Code, insofar as pertinent, read:
Art. 264, Strikes, picketing and lockouts. ...
(c) In cases of bargaining deadlocks, the certified or duly recognized bargaining representative may file a
notice of strike with the Ministry (of Labor and Employment) at least thirty (30) days before the intended
date thereof. In cases of unfair labor practices, the period of notice shall be shortened to fifteen (15)
days; ...
(d) During the cooling-off period, it shall be the duty of the voluntary sttlement. Should the dispute remain
unsettled until the lapse of the requisite number of days from the mandatory filing of the notice, the labor
union may strike or the employer may declare a lockout.
(f) A decision to declae a strike must be approved by at least two-thirds (2/3) of the total union membership
in the bargaining unit concerened by secret ballots in meetings or referenda. A decision to declae a lockout
must be approved by at least two-thirds (2/3) of the board of direcotrs of the employer corporation or
association or of the partners in a partnership obtained by secret ballot in a meeting called for the purpose.
the decision shall be valid for the duration of the dispute based on substantially the same grounds
considered when the strike or lockout vote was taken . The Ministry, may at its own intitiative or upon the
request of any affected party, supervise the conduct of the secret balloting. In every case, the union of the
employer shall furnish the Ministry the results of the voting at least seven (7) days before the intended strike
or lockout, subject to the cooling-off period herein provided. (Emphasis supplied).
ART. 265. Prohibited activities. It shall be unlawful for any labor organization or employer to declare a
strike or lockout without first having bargained collectively in accordance with Title VII of this Book or
without first having filed the notice required in the preceding Article or without the necessary strike or
lockout vote first having been obtained and reported to the Ministry.
It shall likewise be unlawful to declare a strike or lockout after assumption of jurisdiction by the President or
the Minister or after certification or submission of the dispute to compulsory or voluntary arbitration or
during the pendency of cases involving the same grounds for the strike or lockout. (Emphasis supplied.)
(a) Language of the law. The foregoing provisions hardly leave any room for doubt that the cooling-off
period in Art. 264(c) and the 7-day strike ban after the strike-vote report prescribed in Art. 264(f) were
meant to be, and should be deemed, mandatory.
When the law says "the labor union may strike" should the dispute "remain unsettled until the lapse of the
requisite number of days (cooling-off period) from the filing of the notice," the unmistakable implication is
that the union may not strike before the lapse of the cooling-off period. Similarly, the mandatory character
of the 7-day strike ban after the report on the strike-vote is manifest in the provision that "in every case,"
the union shall furnish the MOLE with the results of the voting "at least seven (7) days before the intended
strike, subject to the (prescribed) cooling-off period." It must be stressed that the requirements of cooling-
off period and 7-day strike ban must both be complied with, although the labor union may take a strike
vote and report the same within the statutory cooling-off period.
If only the filing of the strike notice and the strike-vote report would be deemed mandatory, but not the
waiting periods so specifically and emphatically prescribed by law, the purposes (hereafter discussed) for
which the filing of the strike notice and strike-vote report is required would not be achieved, as when a
strike is declared immediately after a strike notice is served, or when as in the instant case the strike-
vote report is filed with MOLE after the strike had actually commenced Such interpretation of the law ought
not and cannot be countenanced. It would indeed be self-defeating for the law to imperatively require the
filing on a strike notice and strike-vote report without at the same time making the prescribed waiting
periods mandatory.
(b) Purposes of strike notice and strike-vote report. In requiring a strike notice and a cooling-off period,
the avowed intent of the law is to provide an opportunity for mediation and conciliation. It thus directs the
MOLE "to exert all efforts at mediation and conciliation to effect a voluntary settlement" during the
cooling-off period . As applied to the CAC-NFSW dispute regarding the 13th month pay, MOLE
intervention could have possibly induced CAC to provisionally give the 13th month pay in order to avert
great business loss arising from the project strike, without prejudice to the subsequent resolution of the
legal dispute by competent authorities; or mediation/conciliation could have convinced NFSW to at least
postpone the intended strike so as to avoid great waste and loss to the sugar central, the sugar planters
and the sugar workers themselves, if the strike would coincide with the mining season.
So, too, the 7-day strike-vote report is not without a purpose. As pointed out by the Solicitor General
Many disastrous strikes have been staged in the past based merely on the insistence of minority groups
within the union. The submission of the report gives assurance that a strike vote has been taken and that, if
the report concerning it is false, the majority of the members can take appropriate remedy before it is too
late. (Answer of public respondents, pp. 17-18.)
If the purpose of the required strike notice and strike-vote report are to be achieved, the periods prescribed
for their attainment must, as aforesaid, be deemed mandatory.,
... when a fair interpretation of the statute, which directs acts or proceedings to be done in a certain way,
shows the legislature intended a compliance with such provision to be essential to the validity of the act or
proceeding, or when some antecedent and prerequisite conditions must exist prior to the exercise of power
or must be performed before certain other powers can be exercised, the statute must be regarded as
mandatory. So it has been held that, when a statute is founded on public policy [such as the policy to
encourage voluntary settlement of disputes without resorting to strikes], those to whom it applies should
not be permitted to waive its provisions. (82 C.J.S. 873-874. Emphasis supplied.)
(c) Waiting period after strike notice and strike-vote report, valid regulation of right to strike. To quote
Justice Jackson in International Union vs. Wisconsin Employment Relations Board, 336 U.S. 245, at 259
The right to strike, because of its more serious impact upon the public interest, is more vulnerable to
regulation than the right to organize and select representatives for lawful purposes of collective
bargaining ...
The cooling-off period and the 7-day strike ban after the filing of a strike- vote report, as prescribed in Art.
264 of the Labor Code, are reasonable restrictions and their imposition is essential to attain the legitimate
policy objectives embodied in the law. We hold that they constitute a valid exercise of the police power of
the state.
(d) State policy on amicable settlement of criminal liability. Petitioner contends that since the non-
compliance (with PD 851) imputed to CAC is an unfair labor practice which is an offense against the state,
the cooling-off period provided in the Labor Code would not apply, as it does not apply to ULP strikes. It is
argued that mediation or conciliation in order to settle a criminal offense is not allowed.
In the first place, it is at best unclear whether the refusal of CAC to give a 13th month pay to NFSW
constitutes a criminal act. Under Sec. 9 of the Rules and regulations Implementing Presidential Decree No.
851
Non-payment of the thirteenth-month pay provided by the Decree and these rules shall be treated as
money claims cases and shall be processed in accordance with the Rules Implementing the Labor Code of
the Philippines and the Rules of the National Labor Relations Commission.
Secondly, the possible dispute settlement, either permanent or temporary, could very well be along legally
permissible lines, as indicated in (b) above or assume the form of measures designed to abort the intended
strike, rather than compromise criminal liability, if any. Finally, amicable settlement of criminal liability is not
inexorably forbidden by law. Such settlement is valid when the law itself clearly authorizes it. In the case of a
dispute on the payment of the 13th month pay, we are not prepared to say that its voluntary settlement is
not authorized by the terms of Art. 264(e) of the Labor Code, which makes it the duty of the MOLE to exert
all efforts at mediation and conciliation to effect a voluntary settlement of labor disputes.
(e) NFSW strike is illegal. The NFSW declared the strike six (6) days after filing a strike notice, i.e., before
the lapse of the mandatory cooling-off period. It also failed to file with the MOLE before launching the
strike a report on the strike-vote, when it should have filed such report "at least seven (7) days before the
intended strike." Under the circumstances, we are perforce constrained to conclude that the strike staged
by petitioner is not in conformity with law. This conclusion makes it unnecessary for us to determine whether
the pendency of an arbitration case against CAC on the same issue of payment of 13th month pay [R.A.B
No. 512-81, Regional Arbitration Branch No. VI-A, NLRC, Bacolod City, in which the National Congress of
Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines (NACUSIP) and a number of CAC workers are the
complainants, with NFSW as Intervenor seeking the dismissal of the arbitration case as regards unnamed
CAC rank and file employees] has rendered illegal the above strike under Art. 265 of the Labor Code which
provides:
It shall likewise be unlawful to declare a strike or lockout after assumption of jurisdiction by the President or
the Minister, or after certification or submission of the dispute to compulsory or voluntary arbitration or
during the pendency of cases involving the same grounds for the strike or lockout. (Emphasis supplied.)
(2) The Second Issue. At bottom, the NFSW strike arose from a dispute on the meaning and application
of PD 851, with NFSW claiming entitlement to a 13th month pay on top of bonuses given by CAC to its
workers, as against the diametrically opposite stance of CAC. Since the strike was just an offshoot of the
said dispute, a simple decision on the legality or illegality of the strike would not spell the end of the
NFSW-CAC labor dispute. And considering further that there are other disputes and strikes actual and
impending involving the interpretation and application of PD 851, it is important for this Court to
definitively resolve the problem: whether under PD 851, CAC is obliged to give its workers a 13th month
salary in addition to Christmas, milling and amelioration bonuses stipulated in a collective bargaining
agreement amounting to more than a month's pay.
Keenly sensitive to the needs of the workingmen, yet mindful of the mounting production cost that are the
woe of capital which provides employment to labor, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential
Decree No. 851 on 16 December 1975. Thereunder, "all employers are hereby required to pay salary of not
more than all their employees receiving a basic P1,000 a month, regardless of the nature of their
employment, a 13th month pay not later than December 24 of every year." Exempted from the obligation
however are:
Employers already paying their employees a 13th month pay or its equivalent ...
(Section 2.)
The evident intention of the law, as revealed by the law itself, was to grant an additional income in the form
of a 13th month pay to employees not already receiving the same. Otherwise put, the intention was to
grant some relief not to all workers but only to the unfortunate ones not actually paid a 13th month
salary or what amounts to it, by whatever name called; but it was not envisioned that a double burden
would be imposed on the employer already paying his employees a 13th month pay or its equivalent
whether out of pure generosity or on the basis of a binding agreement and, in the latter ease, regardless of
the conditional character of the grant (such as making the payment dependent on profit), so long as there is
actual payment. Otherwise, what was conceived to be a 13th month salary would in effect become a 14th or
possibly 15th month pay.
This view is justified by the law itself which makes no distinction in the grant of exemption: "Employers
already paying their employees a 13th month pay or its equivalent are not covered by this Decree." (P.D.
851.)
The Rules Implementing P.D. 851 issued by MOLE immediately after the adoption of said law reinforce this
stand. Under Section 3(e) thereof
The term "its equivalent" ... shall include Christmas bonus, mid-year bonus, profit-sharing payments and
other cash bonuses amounting to not less than 1/12th of the basic salary but shall not include cash and
stock dividends, cost of living allowances and all other allowances regularly enjoyed by the employee, as
well as non-monetary benefits. Where an employer pays less than 1/12th of the employee's basic salary, the
employer shall pay the difference." (Italics supplied.)
Having been issued by the agency charged with the implementation of PD 851 as its contemporaneous
interpretation of the law, the quoted rule should be accorded great weight.
Pragmatic considerations also weigh heavily in favor of crediting both voluntary and contractual bonuses for
the purpose of determining liability for the 13th month pay. To require employers (already giving their
employees a 13th month salary or its equivalent) to give a second 13th month pay would be unfair and
productive of undesirable results. To the employer who had acceded and is already bound to give bonuses
to his employees, the additional burden of a 13th month pay would amount to a penalty for his munificence
or liberality. The probable reaction of one so circumstance would be to withdraw the bonuses or resist
further voluntary grants for fear that if and when a law is passed giving the same benefits, his prior
concessions might not be given due credit; and this negative attitude would have an adverse impact on the
employees.
In the case at bar, the NFSW-CAC collective bargaining agreement provides for the grant to CAC workers
of Christmas bonus, milling bonus and amelioration bonus, the aggregate of which is very much more than
a worker's monthly pay. When a dispute arose last year as to whether CAC workers receiving the stipulated
bonuses would additionally be entitled to a 13th month pay, NFSW and CAC concluded a compromise
agreement by which they
agree(d) to abide by the final decision of the Supreme Court in any case involving the 13th Month Pay Law
if it is clearly held that the employer is liable to pay a 13th month pay separate and distinct from the
bonuses already given.
When this agreement was forged on November 30,1981, the original decision dismissing the petition in the
aforecited Marcopper case had already been promulgated by this Court. On the votes of only 7 Justices,
including the distinguished Chief Justice, the petition of Marcopper Mining Corp. seeking to annul the
decision of Labor Deputy Minister Amado Inciong granting a 13th month pay to Marcopper employees (in
addition to mid- year and Christmas bonuses under a CBA) had been dismissed. But a motion for
reconsideration filed by Marcopper was pending as of November 30, 1981. In December 1981, the original
decision was affirmed when this Court finally denied the motion for reconsideration. But the resolution of
denial was supported by the votes of only 5 Justices. The Marcopper decision is therefore a Court decision
but without the necessary eight votes to be doctrinal. This being so, it cannot be said that the Marcopper
decision "clearly held" that "the employer is liable to pay a 13th month pay separate and distinct from the
bonuses already given," within the meaning of the NFSW-CAC compromise agreement. At any rate, in view
of the rulings made herein, NFSW cannot insist on its claim that its members are entitled to a 13th month
pay in addition to the bonuses already paid by CAC. WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed for lack of
merit. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Aquino, Guerrero, Escolin, Vasquez, Relova and Gutierrez, JJ., concur.
Concepcion, J., is on leave.
Teehankee, J., concurs in the result.


Separate Opinions

MAKASIAR, J., concurring:
Concurs in the separate opinion of qualified concurrence as to the illegality of the strike and of dissent as to
the interpretation of Presidential Decree No. 851 submitted by the Chief Justice.
FERNANDO, CJ., concurring:
With qualifications on the questions of the legality of the strike and dissenting on the interpretation to be
accorded Presidential Decree No. 851 on the thirteenth-month additional pay.,
There is at the outset due acknowledgmen t on my part of the high quality of craftsmanship in the opinion
of the Court penned by Justice Efren Plana. It is distinguished by its lucidity. There is the imprint of
inevitability in the conclusion approached based on the basic premise that underlies it. So it should be if the
decisive consideration is the language used both of the applicable provisions of the Labor Code, Article
264 (c), (e), and (f) and Article 265, as well as of Presidential Decree No. 851. In that sense, the decision of
the Court can stand the test of scrutiny based on sheer logic.
That for me would not suffice. Such an approach, to my mind, is quite limited. The standard that should
govern is the one supplied by the Constitution. That is the clear implication of constitutionalism. Anything
less would deprive it of its quality as the fundamental law. It is my submission, therefore, that statutes,
codes, decrees, administrative rules, municipal ordinances and any other jural norms must be construed in
the light of and in accordance with the Constitution. There is this explicit affirmation in the recently decided
case of De la Llana v. Alba sustaining the validity of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 reorganizing the judiciary:
"The principle that the Constitution enters into and forms part of every act to avoid any unconstitutional
taint must be applied. Nunez v. Sandiganbayan, promulgated last January, has this relevant excerpt: 'It is
true that the other Sections of the Decree could have been so worded as to avoid any constitutional
objection. As of now, however, no ruling is called for. The view is given expression in the concurring and
dissenting opinion of Justice Makasiar that in such a case to save the Decree from the dire fate of invalidity,
they must be construed in such a way as to preclude any possible erosion on the powers vested in this
Court by the Constitution. That is a proposition too plain to be contested. It commends itself for approval.'"
1
1. It may not be amiss to start with the dissenting portion of this separate opinion. It is worthwhile to recall
the decision in Marcopper Mining Corporation v. Hon. Blas Ople.
2
It came from a unanimous Court. It is
true that only seven Justices signed the opinion, two of the members of this Tribunal, who participated in
the deliberation, Justices Teehankee and Melencio-Herrera having reserved their votes. Justice Concepcion
Jr. was on leave. It is accurate, therefore, to state that Marcopper as stated in Justice Plana's opinion, is not
doctrinal in character, the necessary eight votes not having been obtained. It is a plurality as distinguished
from a majority opinion. It is quite apparent, however, that there was not a single dissenting vote. There was
subsequently a motion for reconsideration. This Court duly weighed the arguments for and against the
merit of the unanimous opinion rendered. The resolution denying the motion for reconsideration was not
issued until December 15, 1981 on which occasion three Justices dissented.
3
In the brief resolution
denying the option for reconsideration, with five Justices adhering to their original stand
4
it was set forth
that such denial was based: "primarily [on] the reason that the arguments advanced had been duly
considered and found insufficient to call for a decision other than that promulgated on June 11, 1981,
which stands unreversed and unmodified. This is a case involving the social justice concept, which, as
pointed out in Carillo v. Allied Workers Association of the Philippines involves 'the effectiveness of the
community's effort to assist the economically under- privileged. For under existing conditions, without such
succor and support, they might not, unaided, be able to secure justice for themselves.' In an earlier
decision, Del Rosario v. De los Santos, it was categorically stated that the social justice principle 'is the
translation into reality of its significance as popularized by the late President Magsaysay: He who has less in
life should have more in law.'"
5
In his dissent, Justice Fernandez took issue on the interpretation of social
justice by relying on the well- known opinion of Justice Laurel in Calalang v. William
6
and concluded: "It is
as much to the benefit of labor that the petitioner be accorded social justice. For if the mining companies,
like the petitioner, can no longer operate, all the laborers employed by aid company shall be laid-off."
7
To
reinforce such a conclusion, it was further stated: "The decision in this case is far reaching. It affects all
employers similarly situated as the petitioner. The natural reaction of employers similarly situated as the
petitioner will be to withdraw gratuities that they have been giving employees voluntarily. In the long run,
the laborers will suffer. In the higher interest of all concerned the contention of the petitioner that the mid-
year bonus and Christmas bonus that it is giving to the laborers shall be applied to the 13th month pay
should be sustained."
8
Such pragmatic consideration is likewise evident in the opinion of the Court in this
case. It is quite obvious from the above resolution of denial that the approach based on the Constitution,
compelling in its character set forth in the opinion of the Court of June 11, 1981, is the one followed by the
members of this Court either adhering to or departing from the previous unanimous conclusion reached.
The main reliance to repeat, is on the social justice provision
9
as reinforced by the protection to labor
provision.
10
As noted, such concepts were enshrined in the 1935 Constitution.
11
The opinion pursued the
matter further: "Even then, there was a realization of their importance in vitalizing a regime of liberty not
just as immunity from government restraint but as the assumption by the State of an obligation to assure a
life of dignity for all, especially the poor and the needy. The expanded social justice and protection to labor
provisions of the present Constitution lend added emphasis to the concern for social and economic
rights. ... That was so under the 1935 Constitution. Such an approach is even more valid now. As a matter of
fact, in the first case after the applicability of the 1973 constitution where social and economic rights were
involved, this Court in Alfanta v. Noe, through Justice Antonio, stated: 'In the environment of a new social
order We can do no less. Thus, under the new Constitution, property ownership has been impressed with a
social function. This implies that the owner has the obligation to use his property not only to benefit himself
but society as well. Hence, it provides under Section 6 of Article II thereof, that in the promotion of social
justice, the State "shall regulate the acquisition, ownership, use, enjoyment, and disposition of private
property, and equitably diffuse property ownership and profits." The Constitution also ensures that the
worker shall have a just and living wage which should assure for himself and his family an existence worthy
of human dignity and give him opportunity for a better life.' Such a sentiment finds expression in
subsequent opinions.
12
2. It thus becomes apparent, therefore, why predicated on what for me is the significance of the social
justice and the protection to labor mandates of the Constitution, I cannot, with due respect, concur with my
brethren. The stand taken by this Court, I submit, cannot be justified by the hitherto hospitable scope
accorded such provisions. It is to the credit of this Administration that even during the period of crisis
government, the social and economic rights were fully implemented. As a matter of fact, some critics, not
fully informed of the actual state of affairs, would predicate their assessment of its accomplishments in this
sphere on their inaccurate and unsympathetic appraisal of how much success had been achieved. It is a
matter of pride for the Philippines that as far back as her 1935 Constitution, provisions assuring liberty in its
positive sense, enabling her citizens to live a life of humanity and dignity, were already incorporated. The
social and economic rights found therein antedated by thirteen years the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. When it is considered that, as pointed out in the opinion of Justice Antonio in Alfanta, rendered in
the first year of the present Constitution, the social justice principle now lends itself to the equitable
diffusion of property ownership and profits, it becomes difficult for me to justify why any lurking ambiguity
in Presidential Decree No. 851 could be construed against the rights of labor. This Court is not acting
unjustly if it promotes social justice. This Court is not acting unjustly if it protects labor. This Court is just
being true to its mission of fealty to the Constitution. Under the concept of separation of powers, while the
political branches enact the laws and thereafter enforce them, any question as to their interpretation,
justiciable in character, is for the courts, ultimately this Tribunal, to decide. That is its sworn duty. It cannot
be recreant to such a trust. Its role, therefore, is far from passive. It may be said further that if the object Of
statutory construction is in the well-known language of Learned Hand "proliferation of purpose," there is
warrant for the view that I espouse. That is to attain its basic objective, namely, to cope with the ravages of
inflation. Moreover, the Decree only benefits the low-salaried employees. There is thus ample warrant for a
more liberal approach. It only remains to be added that there was in Marcopper not only a recognition of
the administrative determination by the Minister of Labor as well as the then Deputy Minister of Labor but
also an acceptance of the ably-written memorandum of Solicitor General Mendoza. Hence, to repeat, my
inability to concur on this point with my brethren whose views, as I stated earlier, are deserving of the fullest
respect.
3. There is, however and it must be so recognized an obstacle to the approach above followed. There is
an agreement both on the part of management and labor in this case quoted in the main opinion to this
effect, "to abide by the final decision of the Supreme Court in any case involving the 13th Month Pay Law if
it is clearly held that the employer is liable to pay a 13th month pay separate and distinct from the bonuses
already given." Such an obstacle, on further reflection, is not, for me, insurmountable. The only case then
within the contemplation of the parties is Marcopper. With the unanimous opinion rendered and a
subsequent denial of a motion for reconsideration, it would appear that while it lacked doctrinal force, this
Court "clearly held" that there is liability on the part of the employer to pay a 13-month pay separate and
distinct from the bonuses already given. Perhaps the parties, especially labor, could have been more
accurate and more precise. It take comfort from the view expressed by Justice Cardozo in Wood v. Duff-
Gordon:
13
"The law has outgrown its primitive stage of formalism when the precise word was the sovereign
talisman, and every slip was fatal. It takes a broader view today. A promise may be lacking, and yet the
whole writing may be 'instinct with an obligation,' imperfectly expressed."
14
4. Now as to the qualified concurrence. Based on the codal provisions the finding of the illegality of strike is
warranted. That for me does not fully resolve the questions raised by such a declaration. From my reading
of the opinion of the Court, it does not go as far as defining the consequences of such illegal strike. Again
the approach I propose to follow is premised on the two basic mandates of social justice and protection to
labor, for while they are obligations imposed on the government by the fundamental law, compulsory
arbitration as a result of which there could be a finding of illegality is worded in permissive not in mandatory
language. It would be, for me, a departure from principles to which this Court has long remained
committed, if thereby loss of employment, even loss of seniority rights or other privileges is ultimately
incurred. That is still an open question. The decision has not touched on that basic aspect of this litigation.
The issue is not foreclosed. It seems fitting that this brief concurrence and dissent should end with a
relevant excerpt from Free Telephone Workers Union v. The Minister of Labor:
15
"It must be stressed anew,
however, that the power of compulsory arbitration, while allowable under the Constitution and quite
understandable in labor disputes affected with a national interest, to be free from the taint of
unconstitutionality, must be exercised in accordance with the constitutional mandate of protection to labor.
The arbiter then is called upon to take due care that in the decision to be reached, there is no violation of
'the rights of workers to self-organization, collective bargaining, security of tenure, and just and humane
conditions of work.' It is of course manifest that there is such unconstitutional application if a law 'fair on its
face and impartial in appearance [is] applied and administered by public authority with an evil eye and an
unequal hand.' It does not even have to go that far. An instance of unconstitutional application would be
discernible if what is ordained by the fundamental law, the protection of labor, is ignored or disregarded.
16
I am authorized to state that Justice Makasiar joins me in this separate opinion.
BARREDO, J., concurring:
At this stage of my tenure in the Supreme Court which is to end in about four months from now, I feel it is
but fitting and proper that I make my position clear and unmistakable in regard to certain principles that
have to be applied to this labor case now before Us. Few perhaps may have noticed it, but the fact is that in
most cases of this nature I have endeavored my very best to fully abide by the part that pertains to the
judiciary in the social justice and protection to labor clauses of the Constitution, not alone because. I
consider it as an obligation imposed by the fundamental law of the land but by natural inclination, perhaps
because I began to work as a common worker at the age of thirteen, and I cannot in any sense be
considered as a capitalist or management-inclined just because I happen to have joined, within the legal
bounds of the position I occupy, some business ventures with the more affluent members of my family and
with some good and faithful old time friends. I need not say that I am pro-labor; I only wish to deny most
vehemently that I am anti-labor
Having been one of the seven members of the Court who co-signed with our learned Chief Justice the
Marcopper "decision" and later on reserved my vote when a motion for reconsideration thereof was filed
for me to concur now by merely cosigning the brilliant opinion of our distinguished colleague, Mr. Justice
Plana, is to my mind short of what all concerned might expect from me. For me to merely vote in support of
the judgment herein without any explanation of my peculiar situation does not satisfy my conscience, not to
mention that I owe such explanation to those who would all probably be raising their eyebrows since they
must come to feel they could depend on me to always vote in favor of labor.
The Supreme Court is a court of law and of equity at the same time but, understandably, equity comes in
only when law is inadequate to afford the parties concerned the essence of justice, fairness and square
dealing. It is to this basic tenet that I am bound by my oath of office before God and our people Having this
Ideal in mind, the paramount thought that should dominate my actuations is complete and absolute
impartiality in the best light God has given me. Hence, when the aid of the Court is sought on legal
grounds, We can resort to equity only when there is no law that can be properly applied. My view of the
instant case is that it is one of law, not of equity. It is on this fundamental basis that I have ventured to write
this concurrence.
Looking back at my concurrence in Marcopper, and guided by the observations in the main opinion herein,
as to the doctrinal value of Our decision therein, I have come to the realization, after mature deliberation,
that the conclusion reached in the opinion of the Chief Justice may not always be consistent with the
evident intent and purpose of Section 2 of P.D. No. 851 which, indeed, unequivocally provides that
"(E)mployers already paying their employees a 13th month pay or its equivalent are not covered by this
decree", albeit it does not clarify what it means by the "equivalent" of the 13th month pay. Such being the
case, nothing can be more proper than for everyone to abide by or at least give due respect to the
meaning thereof as has been officially expressed by the usual executive authority called upon to implement
the same, none other than the Ministry of Labor (MOLE, for short), unless, of course, the understanding of
MOLE appears to be manifestly and palpably erroneous and completely alien to the evident intent of the
decree. And Section 3(e) of the Rules Implementing P.D. 851 issued by MOLE reads thus:
The term "its equivalent" as used in paragraph (c) hereof shall include Christmas bonus, midyear bonus,
profit-sharing payments and other cash bonuses amounting to not less than 1/12th of the basic but shall not
include cash and stock dividends, cost of living allowances and all other allowances regularly enjoyed by the
employee, as well as non-monetary benefits. Where an employer pays less than 1/12th of the employee's
basic salary the employer shall pay the difference.
Petitioner National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW, for short) is now before Us with the plea that
because in its agreement with respondent Central Azucarera de la Carlota (CAC, for short) of November 30,
1981 to the effect that:
The parties agree to abide by the final decision of the Supreme Court in any case involving the 13th Month
Pay Law if it is clearly held that the employer is liable to pay a 13th month pay separate and distinct from
the bonuses already given. (Par. 4)
and because this Court dismissed, in legal effect, for lack of necessary votes, the petition in the Marcopper
case seeking the setting aside of Deputy Minister Inciong's decision which considered the midyear and
Christmas bonuses being given to the Marcopper workers as not the equivalent of the 13th month pay
enjoined by P.D. 851, We should now order CAC to pay NFSW members in the same way as stated in the
opinion of the Chief Justice in the Marcopper case.
At first glance, such a pause does appear tenable and plausible. But looking deeper at the precise wording
of the November 30, 1981 agreement between NFSW and CAC abovequoted, the proposition in the main
opinion herein that what must be deemed contemplated in said agreement is that the final decision of the
Supreme Court therein referred to must be one wherein it would be "clearly held that the employer is liable
to pay 13th month pay separate and distinct from the bonuses already given", compels concurrence on my
part. I find said agreement to be definitely worded. There is no room at all for doubt as to the meaning
thereof. And tested in the light of such unambiguous terminology of the said agreement, the Marcopper
opinion signed by only seven members of this Court, cannot, under the Constitution and prevailing binding
legal norms, unfortunately, have doctrinal worth and cannot be considered as stare decisis. Hence, it cannot
be said to be the "definite" decision of the Supreme Court the parties (CAC and NFSW) had in mind.
Accordingly, it is my considered opinion that NFSW's plea in this case is premature and rather off tangent.
I am not unmindful of the possibility or even probability that labor may argue that in signing the November
30, 1981 agreement, NFSW little cared, for it was not fully informed about what doctrinal and what is not
doctrinal signify in law. Labor may argue that it is enough that Marcopper workers got their 13th month pay
in addition to their bonuses by virtue of the denial by this Supreme Court of Marcopper Company's appeal
to US, and NFSW members should not be left getting less. And it would only be rational to expect labor to
invoke in support of their plea no less than the social justice and protection to labor provisions of the
Constitution.
As I have said at the outset, I am about to leave this Court. Nothing could warm my heart and lift my spirit
more than to part with the noble thought that during my tenure of fourteen years in this Supreme Court, I
have given labor the most that it has been within my power to give. But again I must emphasize that what is
constitutionally ordained, and by that I mean also by God and by our country and people, is for me to
jealously guard that the scales of justice are in perfect balance. No fondness for any sector of society, no
love for any man or woman, no adherence to any political party, no feeling for any relative or friend nor
religious consideration or belief should ever induce me to allow it to tilt in the slightest degree in favor of
anyone.
The concept of social justice has been variously explained in previous decisions of this Court. In Talisay Silay,
1
penned by this writer, We went as far as to hold that when it comes to labor-management relationship, the
social justice principle is more pervasive and imperious than police power. It is indeed consecrated as one
of the most valued principles of national policy in the Constitution. (Sec. 6, Art. II) So also is protection to
labor. (See. 9, Id.) I am of the firm conviction, however, that these constitutional injunctions are primarily
directed to and are responsibilities of the policy-determining departments of the government. In the
enforcement of said principles, the role of the judiciary is to a certain degree less active. The courts are
supposed to be called upon only to strike down any act or actuation of anyone violative thereof, and, of
course 6 in case of doubt in any given situation, to resolve the same in favor of labor. Verily, neither the
Supreme Court nor any other court is enjoined to favor labor merely for labor's sake, even as the judiciary is
duty bound never to place labor at a disadvantage, for that would not be only unconstitutional but
inhuman, contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and unpardonably degrading to the dignity
of man who has been precisely created in the image of God. At bottom the Ideal in social justice is precisely
to maintain the forces of all the economic segments of society in undisturbed and undisturbable
equilibrium, as otherwise there would be no justice for anyone of them at all.
In the case at bar, I do not feel at liberty to disregard what the parties have freely agreed upon, assuming,
as I must, that in entering into such agreement both parties were fully aware of their legal rights and
responsibilities. In this connection, I take particular note of the fact that if CAC is a big financially well
conditioned concern, NFSW is not just one ignorant laborer or group of laborers, but a federation with
leaders and lawyers of adequate if not expert knowledge-ability in regard to their rights and other relevant
matters affecting labor. I am satisfied that there is here no occasion to apply the Civil Code rule regarding
vigilance whenever there is inequality in the situations of the parties to an agreement or transaction.
In conclusion, I concur fully in the main opinion of Justice Plana as regards both issues of illegality of the
strike here in question and the non- applicability hereto of whatever has been said in Marcopper. I have
added the above remarks only to make myself clear on labor-management issues before I leave this Court,
lest there be no other appropriate occasion for me to do so.
ABAD SANTOS, J., concurring:
I concur but lest I be accused of inconsistency because in Marcopper Mining Corporation vs. Ople, et al.,
No. 51254, June 11, 1981, 105 SCRA 75, I voted to dismiss the petition for lack of merit and as a result
Marcopper had to give the 13th-month pay provided in P.D. No. 851 even as its employees under the CBA
had mid-year and end-of-year bonuses, I have to state that Marcopper and La Carlota have different factual
situations as follows: 1. In Marcopper, the CBA clearly stated that the company was obligated to "grant
midyear and end-of-year bonuses to employees following years in which it had profitable operations." Thus
the payment of the bonuses was contingent upon the realization of profits. If there were no profits, there
were to be no bonuses. Accordingly, it was fair and proper to conclude that Marcopper had not shown that
it was already paying its employees the 13th-month pay or its equivalent as provided in Sec. 2 of P.D. No.
851. However, in the instant case of La Carlota the obligation of the employer to pay bonuses is not
contingent on the realization of profits. The CBA stipulates that the "parties also agree to maintain the
present practice on the grant of Christmas bonus, milling bonus, and amelioration bonus to the extent as
the latter is required by law." It can thus be said that La Carlota is already paying the equivalent of the 13th-
month pay. 2. In Marcopper, the company's liability for the 13th month pay was determined by no less than
the Deputy Minister of Labor, Amado G. Inciong. I have always given much weight to the determination of
officers who are tasked with implementing legislation because their expertise qualifies them in making
authoritative decisions. In the present case of La Carlota, there has been no determination that the
employees are entitled to the 13th-month pay. In fact, a negative conclusion can be implied from the
declaration of Labor Arbiter Ovejera that the labor union's strike against La Carlota was illegal.
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J., concurring.
A. The question of law involved in this Petition for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction is based on the
following relevant facts which are indicated in the record:
1. Prior to December 16, 1975, Central Azucarera de la Carlota (LA CARLOTA, for short), which operates a
sugar mill in La Carlota, Negros Occidental, may be deemed as paying to its employees milling bonus,
amelioration bonus, and Christmas bonus equal at least to a months' salary.
2. PD 851, effective on the aforementioned date of December 16, 1975, required employers to pay their
employees a 13the month pay, provided the employer was not already paying the said 13th month pay or
its equivalent.
3. On December 22, 1975, the then Department of Labor promulgated a regulation stating that "Christmas
bonus" is an equivalent of the 13th month pay,
4. From 1975 to 1981, LA CARLOTA was not paying 13th month pay on the assumption that the "Christmas
bonus" it was paying was an "equivalent" of the 13th month pay. The employees of LA CARLOTA and their
labor unions had not protested the non-payment of the 13th month pay in addition to the Christmas bonus.
5. On June 11, 1981, this Court promulgated its Decision in the "Marcopper" case, which involved a
relationship between the " 13th month pay" and the "Christmas bonus" being paid by an employer. A
Motion for reconsideration of the Decision was subsequently filed in said case, which was denied only on
December 15,1981.
6. In the meantime, on November 29, 1981, the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), as the labor
union representing the majority of employees at LA CARLOTA, staged a strike because LA CARLOTA had
refused to pay the 13th month pay in addition to Christmas bonus. The strike lasted one day on November
30, 1981, LA CARLOTA and NFSW entered into a settlement agreement, paragraph 4 whereof provided as
follows:
4. The parties agree to abide by the final decision of the Supreme Court in any case involving the 13th
Month Pay Law if it is clearly held that the employer is liable to pay a 13th Month Pay separate and distinct
from the bonuses already given;
7. On January 28, 1982, NFSW declared a strike on the ground that, despite the finality of the Marcopper
Decision, LA CARLOTA had refused to grant 13th month pay to its employees, in addition to Christmas
bonus, as agreed upon in the settlement agreement of November 30, 1981.
B. The legal controversy in the matter may be explained as follows:
1. NFSW filed a notice of strike on January 22, 1982, claiming that the contemplated strike was based on an
unfair labor practice, and that it could declare the strike even before the expiration of fifteen (15) days
thereafter. The unfair labor practice relied upon was management's alleged renegation of the November
30, 1981 agreement, considering that the finality of the Marcopper Decision had "clearly held that the
employer is liable to pay a 13th month pay separate and distinct from "the Christmas bonus".
2. On the other hand, LA CARLOTA took the position that the strike was not a ULP strike but an economic
strike subject to a cooling period of thirty (30) days with its attendant requirements.
3. It is clear that the controversy between NFSW and LA CARLOTA substantially hinges on the question of
whether or not the Marcopper Decision has clearly held that a Christmas bonus, in whatsoever form, should
not deter the employer's obligation to the payment of the 13th month pay.
C. The proceedings in the case below were as follows:
1. On February 4, 1982, LA CARLOTA filed a petition to declare the strike of January 28, 1982 as illegal in
R. A. B. Case No. 110- 82 of the Regional Arbitration Branch No. VI-A of the National Labor Commission in
Bacolod City (the CASE BELOW).
2. After relatively protracted hearings, respondent Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision declaring illegal the
strike of January 28, 1982. That is the Decision assailed by NFSW in this instance claiming it to be null and
void.
D. Reference to a collateral proceeding may be made at this juncture:
1. It appears that, in LA CARLOTA, there is another labor union under the name of National Congress of
Unions in the Sugar Industry in the Philippines (NACUSIP).
2. On July 30, 1981, NACUSIP filed a complaint in FSD Case No. 1192-81 before R. A. B. No. VI-A in
Bacolod City praying that an Order be issued directing LA CARLOTA to pay 13th month pay to its
employees from the effective date of PD 851 (the COLLATERAL PROCEEDING).
3. On December 4, 1981, NFSW filed a notice to intervene in the COLLATERAL PROCEEDING.
4. On January 26, 1982, a Decision was rendered in the COLLATERAL PROCEEDING which, in part, said:
On the contrary, what this Labor Arbiter is aware of, with which he can take notice, is the policy declaration
of the Honorable Minister of Labor and Employment contained in a telegram addressed to Asst. Director
Dante G. Ardivilla Bacolod District Office, this Ministry, and disseminated for the information of this Branch
which states, among other things, that where bonuses in CBAs are not contingent on realization of profit as
in the Marcopper case, the decision (of the Supreme Court, re: Marcopper case), does not apply, and cases
thereon should be resolved under the provisions of PD 851 and its implementing rules.
5. On February 15, 1982, NFSW filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision.
Upon the foregoing exposition, there is justification for an outright dismissal of the Petition for Prohibition
for the simple reason that the strike of January 28, 1982 may not be considered a ULP strike. When the
strike was declared, it could not be validly claimed that there was already a final decision made by this
Court which "clearly held that the employer is liable to pay a 13th month pay separate and distinct from"
the Christmas bonus being paid by LA CARLOTA. However, since the Marcopper Decision has engendered
controversies in labor-management relations in several industrial/commercial firms, the Court has resolved
to rule on the merits of the substantial question between LA CARLOTA and NFSW for the public benefit
with a clarification of the Marcopper judgment.
I agree with the proposition taken by the Ministry of Labor and Employment that Christmas bonus, not
contingent on realization of profit as in the Marcoper case, is the equivalent of the 13th month pay. In
regards to the juxtaposition of the terms "13th month pay" and "Christmas bonus" in an amount not less
than a month's salary, the following may be explained:
Within recent time, it has been usual for an industrial or commercial firm, which has had a successful year, to
grant a bonus to its employees generally denominated before as year-end bonus. A firm usually knows
whether or not it has had a successful year by the middle of December. In case of profitability, payment of
the year-end bonus does not have to await the end of the year, but it is often times given some days before
New Year, generally about Christmas day. Before long, the year-end bonus became also known as Christmas
bonus, following the change of the Christmas gift-giving day from January 6th to December 25th. Thus, it
has been stated: "a less formal use of the bonus concept, which is designed to reward workers for a
successful business year, is the annual or Christmas bonus" (3 Ency. Brit., 918).
Although the original concept of a year-end bonus or Christmas bonus, was that it depended on a
successful year, the bonus, in many instances, has been developed into an obligatory payment as part of
wages and not related to profitability of operations. As part of wages, they are subject to CBA negotiation.
That has been the general trend in the United States and in our country.
... But where so-called gifts are so tied to the remuneration which employees receive for their work that they
are in fact a part of it, they are in reality wages within the meaning of the Act.
xxx xxx xxx
In a number of cases an employer has been held required to bargain concerning bonuses, including
regularly given Christmas bonuses. (48 Am Jur 2d., p. 455).
Moreover, once a Christmas bonus becomes institutionalized, it has to be non-discriminatory. "An employer
violates 29 USC (Sec.) 158(a) (3) where, to discourage union membership, he ceases giving a Christmas
bonus to all employees and gives the bonus only to office and supervisory employees after unionization of
his production and maintenance employees." (48 Am Jur 2d., p. 420).
The Christmas bonus, as it clearly denotes, has a literal religious connection, "Christmas" being a term
within the Christian religion. Considering that the Christmas bonus has become obligatory and non-
discriminatory in many jurisdictions, a tendency arose to disassociate that bonus from its religious
connotation. Some countries, with non-christian or "liberal" christian segments, have opted to make the
year-end or Christmas bonus obligatory, and they called it the 13th month pay. It is, perhaps, having our
Moslem brothers in mind that the Government had decided to set up in our country the obligatory payment
of the 13th month pay Thereby, the orthodox non-christian employee is not subjected to "discrimination"
due to his inability to accept the Christmas bonus because of strict allegiance to this own faith. It should,
therefore, be apparent that "christmas bonus" and "13th month pay" should be equated one with the
other.
PD 851 does not contain a provision for rules and regulations to be promulgated by the Department of
Labor for implementation of the Decree. Notwithstanding, on December 22, 1975, the Department of
Labor issued "Rules and Regulations Implementing Presidential Decree 851 ", with the following relevant
provision:
The term "its equivalent" as used in paragraph (c) hereof shall include Christmas bonus, mid-year bonus,
profit-sharing payments and other cash bonuses amounting to not less than 1/12th of the basic salary but
shall not include cash and stock dividends cost of living allowances and all other allowances regularly
enjoyed by the employee, as well as non-monetary benefits. Where an employer pays less than 1/12th of
the employees basic salary, the employer shall pay the difference.
When administrative rules and regulations are not properly "delegated", they cannot have the force and
effect of law. It has been stated that:
Administrative rules and regulations. As discussed in Public Administrative Bodies and Procedure (Sec.) 108,
rules and regulations duly promulgated and adopted in pursuance of properly delegated authority have the
force and effect of law where they are legislative in character, but rules and regulations which are merely
executive or administrative views as to the meaning and construction of the statute are not controlling on
the courts, and cannot alter or extend the plain meaning of a statute, although they are entitled to great
weight where the statute is ambiguous. (82 C.J.S., pp. 770, 771).
Although the rule defining the term "equivalent" as used in PD 851 does not have the force and effect of
law, it can and should be considered as an administrative view entitled to great weight as it is an
interpretation of "equivalent" made by the administrative agency which has the duty to enforce the Decree.
In the light of the foregoing views, I concur with the dismissal of the Petition for Prohibition with the express
statements that LA CARLOTA's Christmas bonus and other bonuses exempts it from giving 13th month pay
to its employees, and that the strike of January 28, 1982 was not a ULP strike and should be considered
illegal even if NFSW had complied with all statutory requirements for the strike.

Separate Opinions
MAKASIAR, J., concurring:
Concurs in the separate opinion of qualified concurrence as to the illegality of the strike and of dissent as to
the interpretation of Presidential Decree No. 851 submitted by the Chief Justice.
FERNANDO, CJ., concurring:
With qualifications on the questions of the legality of the strike and dissenting on the interpretation to be
accorded Presidential Decree No. 851 on the thirteenth-month additional pay.,
There is at the outset due acknowledgmen t on my part of the high quality of craftsmanship in the opinion
of the Court penned by Justice Efren Plana. It is distinguished by its lucidity. There is the imprint of
inevitability in the conclusion approached based on the basic premise that underlies it. So it should be if the
decisive consideration is the language used both of the applicable provisions of the Labor Code, Article
264 (c), (e), and (f) and Article 265, as well as of Presidential Decree No. 851. In that sense, the decision of
the Court can stand the test of scrutiny based on sheer logic.
That for me would not suffice. Such an approach, to my mind, is quite limited. The standard that should
govern is the one supplied by the Constitution. That is the clear implication of constitutionalism. Anything
less would deprive it of its quality as the fundamental law. It is my submission, therefore, that statutes,
codes, decrees, administrative rules, municipal ordinances and any other jural norms must be construed in
the light of and in accordance with the Constitution. There is this explicit affirmation in the recently decided
case of De la Llana v. Alba sustaining the validity of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 reorganizing the judiciary:
"The principle that the Constitution enters into and forms part of every act to avoid any unconstitutional
taint must be applied. Nunez v. Sandiganbayan, promulgated last January, has this relevant excerpt: 'It is
true that the other Sections of the Decree could have been so worded as to avoid any constitutional
objection. As of now, however, no ruling is called for. The view is given expression in the concurring and
dissenting opinion of Justice Makasiar that in such a case to save the Decree from the dire fate of invalidity,
they must be construed in such a way as to preclude any possible erosion on the powers vested in this
Court by the Constitution. That is a proposition too plain to be contested. It commends itself for approval.'"
1
1. It may not be amiss to start with the dissenting portion of this separate opinion. It is worthwhile to recall
the decision in Marcopper Mining Corporation v. Hon. Blas Ople.
2
It came from a unanimous Court. It is
true that only seven Justices signed the opinion, two of the members of this Tribunal, who participated in
the deliberation, Justices Teehankee and Melencio-Herrera having reserved their votes. Justice Concepcion
Jr. was on leave. It is accurate, therefore, to state that Marcopper as stated in Justice Plana's opinion, is not
doctrinal in character, the necessary eight votes not having been obtained. It is a plurality as distinguished
from a majority opinion. It is quite apparent, however, that there was not a single dissenting vote. There was
subsequently a motion for reconsideration. This Court duly weighed the arguments for and against the
merit of the unanimous opinion rendered. The resolution denying the motion for reconsideration was not
issued until December 15, 1981 on which occasion three Justices dissented.
3
In the brief resolution
denying the option for reconsideration, with five Justices adhering to their original stand
4
it was set forth
that such denial was based: "primarily [on] the reason that the arguments advanced had been duly
considered and found insufficient to call for a decision other than that promulgated on June 11, 1981,
which stands unreversed and unmodified. This is a case involving the social justice concept, which, as
pointed out in Carillo v. Allied Workers Association of the Philippines involves 'the effectiveness of the
community's effort to assist the economically under- privileged. For under existing conditions, without such
succor and support, they might not, unaided, be able to secure justice for themselves.' In an earlier
decision, Del Rosario v. De los Santos, it was categorically stated that the social justice principle 'is the
translation into reality of its significance as popularized by the late President Magsaysay: He who has less in
life should have more in law.'"
5
In his dissent, Justice Fernandez took issue on the interpretation of social
justice by relying on the well- known opinion of Justice Laurel in Calalang v. William
6
and concluded: "It is
as much to the benefit of labor that the petitioner be accorded social justice. For if the mining companies,
like the petitioner, can no longer operate, all the laborers employed by aid company shall be laid-off."
7
To
reinforce such a conclusion, it was further stated: "The decision in this case is far reaching. It affects all
employers similarly situated as the petitioner. The natural reaction of employers similarly situated as the
petitioner will be to withdraw gratuities that they have been giving employees voluntarily. In the long run,
the laborers will suffer. In the higher interest of all concerned the contention of the petitioner that the mid-
year bonus and Christmas bonus that it is giving to the laborers shall be applied to the 13th month pay
should be sustained."
8
Such pragmatic consideration is likewise evident in the opinion of the Court in this
case. It is quite obvious from the above resolution of denial that the approach based on the Constitution,
compelling in its character set forth in the opinion of the Court of June 11, 1981, is the one followed by the
members of this Court either adhering to or departing from the previous unanimous conclusion reached.
The main reliance to repeat, is on the social justice provision
9
as reinforced by the protection to labor
provision.
10
As noted, such concepts were enshrined in the 1935 Constitution.
11
The opinion pursued the
matter further: "Even then, there was a realization of their importance in vitalizing a regime of liberty not
just as immunity from government restraint but as the assumption by the State of an obligation to assure a
life of dignity for all, especially the poor and the needy. The expanded social justice and protection to labor
provisions of the present Constitution lend added emphasis to the concern for social and economic
rights.** That was so under the 1935 Constitution. Such an approach is even more valid now. As a matter of
fact, in the first case after the applicability of the 1973 constitution where social and economic rights were
involved, this Court in Alfanta v. Noe, through Justice Antonio, stated: 'In the environment of a new social
order We can do no less. Thus, under the new Constitution, property ownership has been impressed with a
social function. This implies that the owner has the obligation to use his property not only to benefit himself
but society as well. Hence, it provides under Section 6 of Article II thereof, that in the promotion of social
justice, the State "shall regulate the acquisition, ownership, use, enjoyment, and disposition of private
property, and equitably diffuse property ownership and profits." The Constitution also ensures that the
worker shall have a just and living wage which should assure for himself and his family an existence worthy
of human dignity and give him opportunity for a better life.' Such a sentiment finds expression in
subsequent opinions.
12
2. It thus becomes apparent, therefore, why predicated on what for me is the significance of the social
justice and the protection to labor mandates of the Constitution, I cannot, with due respect, concur with my
brethren. The stand taken by this Court, I submit, cannot be justified by the hitherto hospitable scope
accorded such provisions. It is to the credit of this Administration that even during the period of crisis
government, the social and economic rights were fully implemented. As a matter of fact, some critics, not
fully informed of the actual state of affairs, would predicate their assessment of its accomplishments in this
sphere on their inaccurate and unsympathetic appraisal of how much success had been achieved. It is a
matter of pride for the Philippines that as far back as her 1935 Constitution, provisions assuring liberty in its
positive sense, enabling her citizens to live a life of humanity and dignity, were already incorporated. The
social and economic rights found therein antedated by thirteen years the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. When it is considered that, as pointed out in the opinion of Justice Antonio in Alfanta, rendered in
the first year of the present Constitution, the social justice principle now lends itself to the equitable
diffusion of property ownership and profits, it becomes difficult for me to justify why any lurking ambiguity
in Presidential Decree No. 851 could be construed against the rights of labor. This Court is not acting
unjustly if it promotes social justice. This Court is not acting unjustly if it protects labor. This Court is just
being true to its mission of fealty to the Constitution. Under the concept of separation of powers, while the
political branches enact the laws and thereafter enforce them, any question as to their interpretation,
justiciable in character, is for the courts, ultimately this Tribunal, to decide. That is its sworn duty. It cannot
be recreant to such a trust. Its role, therefore, is far from passive. It may be said further that if the object Of
statutory construction is in the well-known language of Learned Hand "proliferation of purpose," there is
warrant for the view that I espouse. That is to attain its basic objective, namely, to cope with the ravages of
inflation. Moreover, the Decree only benefits the low-salaried employees. There is thus ample warrant for a
more liberal approach. It only remains to be added that there was in Marcopper not only a recognition of
the administrative determination by the Minister of Labor as well as the then Deputy Minister of Labor but
also an acceptance of the ably-written memorandum of Solicitor General Mendoza. Hence, to repeat, my
inability to concur on this point with my brethren whose views, as I stated earlier, are deserving of the fullest
respect.
3. There is, however and it must be so recognized an obstacle to the approach above followed. There is
an agreement both on the part of management and labor in this case quoted in the main opinion to this
effect, "to abide by the final decision of the Supreme Court in any case involving the 13th Month Pay Law if
it is clearly held that the employer is liable to pay a 13th month pay separate and distinct from the bonuses
already given." Such an obstacle, on further reflection, is not, for me, insurmountable. The only case then
within the contemplation of the parties is Marcopper. With the unanimous opinion rendered and a
subsequent denial of a motion for reconsideration, it would appear that while it lacked doctrinal force, this
Court "clearly held" that there is liability on the part of the employer to pay a 13-month pay separate and
distinct from the bonuses already given. Perhaps the parties, especially labor, could have been more
accurate and more precise. It take comfort from the view expressed by Justice Cardozo in Wood v. Duff-
Gordon:
13
"The law has outgrown its primitive stage of formalism when the precise word was the sovereign
talisman, and every slip was fatal. It takes a broader view today. A promise may be lacking, and yet the
whole writing may be 'instinct with an obligation,' imperfectly expressed."
14
4. Now as to the qualified concurrence. Based on the codal provisions the finding of the illegality of strike is
warranted. That for me does not fully resolve the questions raised by such a declaration. From my reading
of the opinion of the Court, it does not go as far as defining the consequences of such illegal strike. Again
the approach I propose to follow is premised on the two basic mandates of social justice and protection to
labor, for while they are obligations imposed on the government by the fundamental law, compulsory
arbitration as a result of which there could be a finding of illegality is worded in permissive not in mandatory
language. It would be, for me, a departure from principles to which this Court has long remained
committed, if thereby loss of employment, even loss of seniority rights or other privileges is ultimately
incurred. That is still an open question. The decision has not touched on that basic aspect of this litigation.
The issue is not foreclosed. It seems fitting that this brief concurrence and dissent should end with a
relevant excerpt from Free Telephone Workers Union v. The Minister of Labor:
15
"It must be stressed anew,
however, that the power of compulsory arbitration, while allowable under the Constitution and quite
understandable in labor disputes affected with a national interest, to be free from the taint of
unconstitutionality, must be exercised in accordance with the constitutional mandate of protection to labor.
The arbiter then is called upon to take due care that in the decision to be reached, there is no violation of
'the rights of workers to self-organization, collective bargaining, security of tenure, and just and humane
conditions of work.' It is of course manifest that there is such unconstitutional application if a law 'fair on its
face and impartial in appearance [is] applied and administered by public authority with an evil eye and an
unequal hand.' It does not even have to go that far. An instance of unconstitutional application would be
discernible if what is ordained by the fundamental law, the protection of labor, is ignored or disregarded .
16
I am authorized to state that Justice Makasiar joins me in this separate opinion.
BARREDO, J., concurring:
At this stage of my tenure in the Supreme Court which is to end in about four months from now, I feel it is
but fitting and proper that I make my position clear and unmistakable in regard to certain principles that
have to be applied to this labor case now before Us. Few perhaps may have noticed it, but the fact is that in
most cases of this nature I have endeavored my very best to fully abide by the part that pertains to the
judiciary in the social justice and protection to labor clauses of the Constitution, not alone because. I
consider it as an obligation imposed by the fundamental law of the land but by natural inclination, perhaps
because I began to work as a common worker at the age of thirteen, and I cannot in any sense be
considered as a capitalist or management-inclined just because I happen to have joined, within the legal
bounds of the position I occupy, some business ventures with the more affluent members of my family and
with some good and faithful old time friends. I need not say that I am pro-labor; I only wish to deny most
vehemently that I am anti-labor
Having been one of the seven members of the Court who co-signed with our learned Chief Justice the
Marcopper "decision" and later on reserved my vote when a motion for reconsideration thereof was filed
for me to concur now by merely cosigning the brilliant opinion of our distinguished colleague, Mr. Justice
Plana, is to my mind short of what all concerned might expect from me. For me to merely vote in support of
the judgment herein without any explanation of my peculiar situation does not satisfy my conscience, not to
mention that I owe such explanation to those who would all probably be raising their eyebrows since they
must come to feel they could depend on me to always vote in favor of labor.
The Supreme Court is a court of law and of equity at the same time but, understandably, equity comes in
only when law is inadequate to afford the parties concerned the essence of justice, fairness and square
dealing. It is to this basic tenet that I am bound by my oath of office before God and our people Having this
Ideal in mind, the paramount thought that should dominate my actuations is complete and absolute
impartiality in the best light God has given me. Hence, when the aid of the Court is sought on legal
grounds, We can resort to equity only when there is no law that can be properly applied. My view of the
instant case is that it is one of law, not of equity. It is on this fundamental basis that I have ventured to write
this concurrence.
Looking back at my concurrence in Marcopper, and guided by the observations in the main opinion herein,
as to the doctrinal value of Our decision therein, I have come to the realization, after mature deliberation,
that the conclusion reached in the opinion of the Chief Justice may not always be consistent with the
evident intent and purpose of Section 2 of P.D. No. 851 which, indeed, unequivocally provides that
"(E)mployers already paying their employees a 13th month pay or its equivalent are not covered by this
decree", albeit it does not clarify what it means by the "equivalent" of the 13th month pay. Such being the
case, nothing can be more proper than for everyone to abide by or at least give due respect to the
meaning thereof as has been officially expressed by the usual executive authority called upon to implement
the same, none other than the Ministry of Labor (MOLE, for short), unless, of course, the understanding of
MOLE appears to be manifestly and palpably erroneous and completely alien to the evident intent of the
decree. And Section 3(e) of the Rules Implementing P.D. 851 issued by MOLE reads thus:
The term "its equivalent" as used in paragraph (c) hereof shall include Christmas bonus, midyear bonus,
profit-sharing payments and other cash bonuses amounting to not less than 1/12th of the basic but shall not
include cash and stock dividends, cost of living allowances and all other allowances regularly enjoyed by the
employee, as well as non-monetary benefits. Where an employer pays less than 1/12th of the employee's
basic salary the employer shall pay the difference.
Petitioner National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW, for short) is now before Us with the plea that
because in its agreement with respondent Central Azucarera de la Carlota (CAC, for short) of November 30,
1981 to the effect that:
The parties agree to abide by the final decision of the Supreme Court in any case involving the 13th Month
Pay Law if it is clearly held that the employer is liable to pay a 13th month pay separate and distinct from
the bonuses already given. (Par. 4)
and because this Court dismissed, in legal effect, for lack of necessary votes, the petition in the Marcopper
case seeking the setting aside of Deputy Minister Inciong's decision which considered the midyear and
Christmas bonuses being given to the Marcopper workers as not the equivalent of the 13th month pay
enjoined by P.D. 851, We should now order CAC to pay NFSW members in the same way as stated in the
opinion of the Chief Justice in the Marcopper case.
At first glance, such a pause does appear tenable and plausible. But looking deeper at the precise wording
of the November 30, 1981 agreement between NFSW and CAC abovequoted, the proposition in the main
opinion herein that what must be deemed contemplated in said agreement is that the final decision of the
Supreme Court therein referred to must be one wherein it would be "clearly held that the employer is liable
to pay 13th month pay separate and distinct from the bonuses already given", compels concurrence on my
part. I find said agreement to be definitely worded. There is no room at all for doubt as to the meaning
thereof. And tested in the light of such unambiguous terminology of the said agreement, the Marcopper
opinion signed by only seven members of this Court, cannot, under the Constitution and prevailing binding
legal norms, unfortunately, have doctrinal worth and cannot be considered as stare decisis. Hence, it cannot
be said to be the "definite" decision of the Supreme Court the parties (CAC and NFSW) had in mind.
Accordingly, it is my considered opinion that NFSW's plea in this case is premature and rather off tangent.
I am not unmindful of the possibility or even probability that labor may argue that in signing the November
30, 1981 agreement, NFSW little cared, for it was not fully informed about what doctrinal and what is not
doctrinal signify in law. Labor may argue that it is enough that Marcopper workers got their 13th month pay
in addition to their bonuses by virtue of the denial by this Supreme Court of Marcopper Company's appeal
to US, and NFSW members should not be left getting less. And it would only be rational to expect labor to
invoke in support of their plea no less than the social justice and protection to labor provisions of the
Constitution.
As I have said at the outset, I am about to leave this Court. Nothing could warm my heart and lift my spirit
more than to part with the noble thought that during my tenure of fourteen years in this Supreme Court, I
have given labor the most that it has been within my power to give. But again I must emphasize that what is
constitutionally ordained, and by that I mean also by God and by our country and people, is for me to
jealously guard that the scales of justice are in perfect balance. No fondness for any sector of society, no
love for any man or woman, no adherence to any political party, no feeling for any relative or friend nor
religious consideration or belief should ever induce me to allow it to tilt in the slightest degree in favor of
anyone.
The concept of social justice has been variously explained in previous decisions of this Court. In Talisay Silay,
1
penned by this writer, We went as far as to hold that when it comes to labor-management relationship, the
social justice principle is more pervasive and imperious than police power. It is indeed consecrated as one
of the most valued principles of national policy in the Constitution. (Sec. 6, Art. II) So also is protection to
labor. (See. 9, Id.) I am of the firm conviction, however, that these constitutional injunctions are primarily
directed to and are responsibilities of the policy-determining departments of the government. In the
enforcement of said principles, the role of the judiciary is to a certain degree less active. The courts are
supposed to be called upon only to strike down any act or actuation of anyone violative thereof, and, of
course 6 in case of doubt in any given situation, to resolve the same in favor of labor. Verily, neither the
Supreme Court nor any other court is enjoined to favor labor merely for labor's sake, even as the judiciary is
duty bound never to place labor at a disadvantage, for that would not be only unconstitutional but
inhuman, contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and unpardonably degrading to the dignity
of man who has been precisely created in the image of God. At bottom the Ideal in social justice is precisely
to maintain the forces of all the economic segments of society in undisturbed and undisturbable
equilibrium, as otherwise there would be no justice for anyone of them at all.
In the case at bar, I do not feel at liberty to disregard what the parties have freely agreed upon, assuming,
as I must, that in entering into such agreement both parties were fully aware of their legal rights and
responsibilities. In this connection, I take particular note of the fact that if CAC is a big financially well
conditioned concern, NFSW is not just one ignorant laborer or group of laborers, but a federation with
leaders and lawyers of adequate if not expert knowledge-ability in regard to their rights and other relevant
matters affecting labor. I am satisfied that there is here no occasion to apply the Civil Code rule regarding
vigilance whenever there is inequality in the situations of the parties to an agreement or transaction.
In conclusion, I concur fully in the main opinion of Justice Plana as regards both issues of illegality of the
strike here in question and the non- applicability hereto of whatever has been said in Marcopper. I have
added the above remarks only to make myself clear on labor-management issues before I leave this Court,
lest there be no other appropriate occasion for me to do so.
ABAD SANTOS, J., concurring:
I concur but lest I be accused of inconsistency because in Marcopper Mining Corporation vs. Ople, et al.,
No. 51254, June 11, 1981, 105 SCRA 75, I voted to dismiss the petition for lack of merit and as a result
Marcopper had to give the 13th-month pay provided in P.D. No. 851 even as its employees under the CBA
had mid-year and end-of-year bonuses, I have to state that Marcopper and La Carlota have different factual
situations as follows: 1. In Marcopper, the CBA clearly stated that the company was obligated to "grant
midyear and end-of-year bonuses to employees following years in which it had profitable operations." Thus
the payment of the bonuses was contingent upon the realization of profits. If there were no profits, there
were to be no bonuses. Accordingly, it was fair and proper to conclude that Marcopper had not shown that
it was already paying its employees the 13th-month pay or its equivalent as provided in Sec. 2 of P.D. No.
851. However, in the instant case of La Carlota the obligation of the employer to pay bonuses is not
contingent on the realization of profits. The CBA stipulates that the "parties also agree to maintain the
present practice on the grant of Christmas bonus, milling bonus, and amelioration bonus to the extent as
the latter is required by law." It can thus be said that La Carlota is already paying the equivalent of the 13th-
month pay. 2. In Marcopper, the company's liability for the 13th month pay was determined by no less than
the Deputy Minister of Labor, Amado G. Inciong. I have always given much weight to the determination of
officers who are tasked with implementing legislation because their expertise qualifies them in making
authoritative decisions. In the present case of La Carlota, there has been no determination that the
employees are entitled to the 13th-month pay. In fact, a negative conclusion can be implied from the
declaration of Labor Arbiter Ovejera that the labor union's strike against La Carlota was illegal.
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J., concurring.
A. The question of law involved in this Petition for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction is based on the
following relevant facts which are indicated in the record:
1. Prior to December 16, 1975, Central Azucarera de la Carlota (LA CARLOTA, for short), which operates a
sugar mill in La Carlota, Negros Occidental, may be deemed as paying to its employees milling bonus,
amelioration bonus, and Christmas bonus equal at least to a months' salary.
2. PD 851, effective on the aforementioned date of December 16, 1975, required employers to pay their
employees a 13the month pay, provided the employer was not already paying the said 13th month pay or
its equivalent.
3. On December 22, 1975, the then Department of Labor promulgated a regulation stating that "Christmas
bonus" is an equivalent of the 13th month pay,
4. From 1975 to 1981, LA CARLOTA was not paying 13th month pay on the assumption that the "Christmas
bonus" it was paying was an "equivalent" of the 13th month pay. The employees of LA CARLOTA and their
labor unions had not protested the non-payment of the 13th month pay in addition to the Christmas bonus.
5. On June 11, 1981, this Court promulgated its Decision in the "Marcopper" case, which involved a
relationship between the " 13th month pay" and the "Christmas bonus" being paid by an employer. A
Motion for reconsideration of the Decision was subsequently filed in said case, which was denied only on
December 15,1981.
6. In the meantime, on November 29, 1981, the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), as the labor
union representing the majority of employees at LA CARLOTA, staged a strike because LA CARLOTA had
refused to pay the 13th month pay in addition to Christmas bonus. The strike lasted one day on November
30, 1981, LA CARLOTA and NFSW entered into a settlement agreement, paragraph 4 whereof provided as
follows:
4. The parties agree to abide by the final decision of the Supreme Court in any case involving the 13th
Month Pay Law if it is clearly held that the employer is liable to pay a 13th Month Pay separate and distinct
from the bonuses already given;
7. On January 28, 1982, NFSW declared a strike on the ground that, despite the finality of the Marcopper
Decision, LA CARLOTA had refused to grant 13th month pay to its employees, in addition to Christmas
bonus, as agreed upon in the settlement agreement of November 30, 1981.
B. The legal controversy in the matter may be explained as follows:
1. NFSW filed a notice of strike on January 22, 1982, claiming that the contemplated strike was based on an
unfair labor practice, and that it could declare the strike even before the expiration of fifteen (15) days
thereafter. The unfair labor practice relied upon was management's alleged renegation of the November
30, 1981 agreement, considering that the finality of the Marcopper Decision had "clearly held that the
employer is liable to pay a 13th month pay separate and distinct from "the Christmas bonus".
2. On the other hand, LA CARLOTA took the position that the strike was not a ULP strike but an economic
strike subject to a cooling period of thirty (30) days with its attendant requirements.
3. It is clear that the controversy between NFSW and LA CARLOTA substantially hinges on the question of
whether or not the Marcopper Decision has clearly held that a Christmas bonus, in whatsoever form, should
not deter the employer's obligation to the payment of the 13th month pay.
C. The proceedings in the case below were as follows:
1. On February 4, 1982, LA CARLOTA filed a petition to declare the strike of January 28, 1982 as illegal in
R. A. B. Case No. 110- 82 of the Regional Arbitration Branch No. VI-A of the National Labor Commission in
Bacolod City (the CASE BELOW).
2. After relatively protracted hearings, respondent Labor Arbiter rendered a Decision declaring illegal the
strike of January 28, 1982. That is the Decision assailed by NFSW in this instance claiming it to be null and
void.
D. Reference to a collateral proceeding may be made at this juncture:
1. It appears that, in LA CARLOTA, there is another labor union under the name of National Congress of
Unions in the Sugar Industry in the Philippines (NACUSIP).
2. On July 30, 1981, NACUSIP filed a complaint in FSD Case No. 1192-81 before R. A. B. No. VI-A in
Bacolod City praying that an Order be issued directing LA CARLOTA to pay 13th month pay to its
employees from the effective date of PD 851 (the COLLATERAL PROCEEDING).
3. On December 4, 1981, NFSW filed a notice to intervene in the COLLATERAL PROCEEDING.
4. On January 26, 1982, a Decision was rendered in the COLLATERAL PROCEEDING which, in part, said:
On the contrary, what this Labor Arbiter is aware of, with which he can take notice, is the policy declaration
of the Honorable Minister of Labor and Employment contained in a telegram addressed to Asst. Director
Dante G. Ardivilla Bacolod District Office, this Ministry, and disseminated for the information of this Branch
which states, among other things, that where bonuses in CBAs are not contingent on realization of profit as
in the Marcopper case, the decision (of the Supreme Court, re: Marcopper case), does not apply, and cases
thereon should be resolved under the provisions of PD 851 and its implementing rules.
5. On February 15, 1982, NFSW filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision.
Upon the foregoing exposition, there is justification for an outright dismissal of the Petition for Prohibition
for the simple reason that the strike of January 28, 1982 may not be considered a ULP strike. When the
strike was declared, it could not be validly claimed that there was already a final decision made by this
Court which "clearly held that the employer is liable to pay a 13th month pay separate and distinct from"
the Christmas bonus being paid by LA CARLOTA. However, since the Marcopper Decision has engendered
controversies in labor-management relations in several industrial/commercial firms, the Court has resolved
to rule on the merits of the substantial question between LA CARLOTA and NFSW for the public benefit
with a clarification of the Marcopper judgment.
I agree with the proposition taken by the Ministry of Labor and Employment that Christmas bonus, not
contingent on realization of profit as in the Marcoper case, is the equivalent of the 13th month pay. In
regards to the juxtaposition of the terms "13th month pay" and "Christmas bonus" in an amount not less
than a month's salary, the following may be explained:
Within recent time, it has been usual for an industrial or commercial firm, which has had a successful year, to
grant a bonus to its employees generally denominated before as year-end bonus. A firm usually knows
whether or not it has had a successful year by the middle of December. In case of profitability, payment of
the year-end bonus does not have to await the end of the year, but it is often times given some days before
New Year, generally about Christmas day. Before long, the year-end bonus became also known as Christmas
bonus, following the change of the Christmas gift-giving day from January 6th to December 25th. Thus, it
has been stated: "a less formal use of the bonus concept, which is designed to reward workers for a
successful business year, is the annual or Christmas bonus" (3 Ency. Brit., 918).
Although the original concept of a year-end bonus or Christmas bonus, was that it depended on a
successful year, the bonus, in many instances, has been developed into an obligatory payment as part of
wages and not related to profitability of operations. As part of wages, they are subject to CBA negotiation.
That has been the general trend in the United States and in our country.
... But where so-called gifts are so tied to the remuneration which employees receive for their work that they
are in fact a part of it, they are in reality wages within the meaning of the Act.
xxx xxx xxx
In a number of cases an employer has been held required to bargain concerning bonuses, including
regularly given Christmas bonuses. (48 Am Jur 2d., p. 455).
Moreover, once a Christmas bonus becomes institutionalized, it has to be non-discriminatory. "An employer
violates 29 USC (Sec.) 158(a) (3) where, to discourage union membership, he ceases giving a Christmas
bonus to all employees and gives the bonus only to office and supervisory employees after unionization of
his production and maintenance employees." (48 Am Jur 2d., p. 420).
The Christmas bonus, as it clearly denotes, has a literal religious connection, "Christmas" being a term
within the Christian religion. Considering that the Christmas bonus has become obligatory and non-
discriminatory in many jurisdictions, a tendency arose to disassociate that bonus from its religious
connotation. Some countries, with non-christian or "liberal" christian segments, have opted to make the
year-end or Christmas bonus obligatory, and they called it the 13th month pay. It is, perhaps, having our
Moslem brothers in mind that the Government had decided to set up in our country the obligatory payment
of the 13th month pay Thereby, the orthodox non-christian employee is not subjected to "discrimination"
due to his inability to accept the Christmas bonus because of strict allegiance to this own faith. It should,
therefore, be apparent that "christmas bonus" and "13th month pay" should be equated one with the
other.
PD 851 does not contain a provision for rules and regulations to be promulgated by the Department of
Labor for implementation of the Decree. Notwithstanding, on December 22, 1975, the Department of
Labor issued "Rules and Regulations Implementing Presidential Decree 851 ", with the following relevant
provision:
The term "its equivalent" as used in paragraph (c) hereof shall include Christmas bonus, mid-year bonus,
profit-sharing payments and other cash bonuses amounting to not less than 1/12th of the basic salary but
shall not include cash and stock dividends cost of living allowances and all other allowances regularly
enjoyed by the employee, as well as non-monetary benefits. Where an employer pays less than 1/12th of
the employees basic salary, the employer shall pay the difference.
When administrative rules and regulations are not properly "delegated", they cannot have the force and
effect of law. It has been stated that:
Administrative rules and regulations. As discussed in Public Administrative Bodies and Procedure (Sec.) 108,
rules and regulations duly promulgated and adopted in pursuance of properly delegated authority have the
force and effect of law where they are legislative in character, but rules and regulations which are merely
executive or administrative views as to the meaning and construction of the statute are not controlling on
the courts, and cannot alter or extend the plain meaning of a statute, although they are entitled to great
weight where the statute is ambiguous. (82 C.J.S., pp. 770, 771).
Although the rule defining the term "equivalent" as used in PD 851 does not have the force and effect of
law, it can and should be considered as an administrative view entitled to great weight as it is an
interpretation of "equivalent" made by the administrative agency which has the duty to enforce the Decree.
In the light of the foregoing views, I concur with the dismissal of the Petition for Prohibition with the express
statements that LA CARLOTA's Christmas bonus and other bonuses exempts it from giving 13th month pay
to its employees, and that the strike of January 28, 1982 was not a ULP strike and should be considered
illegal even if NFSW had complied with all statutory requirements for the strike.
Footnotes
1 De La Llana, G. R. No. 57883, was promulgated on March 12, 1982 and Nuez v. Sandiganbayan, G. R.
Nos. 50581-50617, was promulgated on January 30, 1982.
2 G. R. No. 51254 promulgated on June 11, 1981 is reported in 105 SCRA 75.
3 Justice Fernandez, concurred in by Justices Concepcion Jr. and Guerrero. At that time, of the fourteen
Justices, Justices Teehankee and Barredo reserved their votes and Justices Melencio-Herrera, Ericta, Plana
and Escolin took no part,
4 Fernando, CJ, Makasiar, Aquino, Abad Santos and de Castro, JJ.
5 Resolution dated December 15,1981, 1.
6 70 Phil 726 (1940).
7 Resolution dated December 15, 1981, 3.
8 Ibid.
9 According to Article 11, Sec. 6 of the present Constitution: "The State shall promote social justice to
ensure the dignity, welfare, and security of all the people. Towards this end, the State shall regulate the
acquisition, ownership, use, enjoyment, and disposition of private property, and equitably diffuse property
ownership and profits. "
10 According to Article II, Sec. 9 of the present Constitution: "The State shall afford protection to labor,
promote full employment and equality in employment, ensure equal work opportunities regardless of sex,
race, or creed, and regulate the relations between workers and employers. The state shall assure the rights
of workers to self-organization, collective bargaining, security of tenure, and just and humane conditions of
work. The State may provide for compulsory arbitration."
11 According to Article II, Sec. 5 of the 1935 Constitution: "The promotion of social justice to insure the
well-being and economic security of all the people should be the concern of the State." According to
Article XIV, Sec. 6 of the 1935 Constitution: "The State shall afford protection to labor, especially to working
women and minors, and shall regulate the relation between landowner and tenant, and between labor and
capital in industry and in agriculture. The State may provide for compulsory arbitration."
12 105 SCRA 75, 84-85. Alfanta v. Noe, L-32362, promulgated on September 19, 1973 is reported in 53
SCRA 76. That portion of the opinion cited appears in page 85. La Mallorca v. Workmen's Compensation
Commission, L-29315, promulgated on November 28, 1969, a decision under the 1935 Constitution is
reported in 30 SCRA 613. Seven other opinions were cited starting from Chavez v. Zobel, L-25009, January
17, 1974, 55 SCRA 26; Herald Delivery Carriers Union v. Herald Publications, L-29966, February 28, 1974,
55 SCRA 713; Philippine Air Lines Inc. v. Philippine Airlines Employees Association, L-24626, June 28, 1974,
57 SCRA 489; Almira v. B. F. Goodrich Philippines Inc., L- 34974, July 25, 1974, 58 SCRA 120; Radio
Communications of the Philippines v. Philippine Communications Workers Federation, L-37662, August 30,
1974, 58 SCRA 762; Firestone Employees Asso. v. Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. of the
Philippines, L-37952, December 10, 1974, 61 SCRA 338 to E. Lim and Sons Manufacturing Co. v. Court of
Industrial Relations, L-39117, September 25, 1975, 67 SCRA 124.
13 222 Wy. 88, 118 NE 214 (1917).
14 Ibid, 214.
15 G.R. No. 58184, October 3O, 1981,108 SCRA 757.
16 Ibid, 773.
BARREDO, J., concurring Footnotes:
1 G. R. No, L-21304, February 19,1979.
SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 127347. November 25, 1999.]
ALFREDO N. AGUILA, JR., petitioner, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF
APPEALS and FELICIDAD S. VDA. DE ABROGAR, respondents.
Lamberto C. Nanquil for petitioner.
Domingo M.: Ballon for private respondent.
SYNOPSIS
On April 18, 1991, private respondent, with the consent of her late husband and AC Aguila & Sons Co., as
represented by petitioner, entered into a Memorandum of Agreement selling her property in the amount of
P200,000.00. In a special power of attorney, private respondent authorized petitioner to cause the
cancellation of TCT No. 195101, in the event that she failed to redeem the subject property as provided in
the memorandum of agreement. Private respondent failed to redeem the property on time, causing the
petitioner to cancel TCT No. 195101 and applied for the issuance of a new title in the name of AC Aguila &
Sons Co. Thereafter, petitioner demanded for the peaceful surrender of the questioned property, but
private respondent refused to vacate prompting the petitioner to file an ejectment suit. Petitioner won the
case. Private respondent then filed a petition for declaration of nullity of a deed of sale with the Regional
Trial Court of Marikina against herein petitioner alleging that the signature of her husband on the deed of
sale was a forgery because he was already dead when it was supposed to be executed on June 11, 1991.
On April 11, 1995, the lower court rendered a decision dismissing the petition. On appeal, the Court of
Appeals reversed the decision rendered by the Regional Trial Court and ruled that the memorandum of
agreement entered into by the parties was in the nature of a pactum commisorium. Thus, the deed of sale
was void for being violative of law. Aggrieved by the decision, petitioner filed the instant petition for review
contending that he is not the real party in interest but AC Aguila & Co. against which this case should have
been brought. Likewise, petitioner contended that the contract between the parties is a pacto de retro sale
and not a equitable mortgage as held by the appellate court.
The Supreme Court found the petition meritorious. The Court ruled that since the memorandum of
agreement was executed by A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co. and the private respondent, it is the partnership, not
its officers or agents, which should be impleaded in the instant case. Verily, since petitioner was not the
proper party in interest in this case, the case should be dismissed for failure to state a cause of action.
Accordingly, the decision of the Court of Appeals was reversed and the complaint against petitioner was
dismissed.
SYLLABUS
1. REMEDIAL LAW; CIVIL PROCEDURE; REAL PARTY IN INTEREST; EVERY ACTION MUST BE
PROSECUTED AND DEFENDED IN THE NAME OF THE REAL PARTY IN INTEREST. Rule 3, 2 of the
Rules of Court of 1964, under which the complaint in this case is filed, provided that "every action must be
prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party in interest." A real party in interest is one who
would be benefited or injured by the judgment, or who is entitled to the avails of the suit. This ruling is now
embodied in Rule 3, 2 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure. Any decision rendered against a
person who is not a real party in interest in the case cannot be executed. Hence, a complaint filed against
such a person should be dismissed for failure to state a cause of action.
2. CIVIL LAW; PARTNERSHIP; PARTNERS CANNOT BE HELD LIABLE FOR THE OBLIGATIONS OF THE
PARTNERSHIP UNLESS IT IS SHOWN THAT THE LEGAL FICTION OF A DIFFERENT JURIDICAL
PERSONALITY IS BEING USED FOR FRAUDULENT, UNFAIR OR ILLEGAL PURPOSES. Under Article 1768
of the Civil Code, a partnership "has a juridical personality separate and distinct from that of each of the
partners." The partners cannot be held liable for the obligations of the partnership unless it is shown that
the legal fiction of a different juridical personality is being used for fraudulent, unfair, or illegal purposes. In
this case, private respondent has not shown that A. C. Aguila & Sons, Co., as a separate juridical entity, is
being used for fraudulent, unfair or illegal purposes. Moreover, the title to the subject property is in the
name of A. C. Aguila & Sons, Co., and the Memorandum of Agreement was executed between private
respondent, with the consent of her late husband, and A. C. Aguila & Sons, Co., represented by petitioner.
Hence, it is the partnership, not its officers or agents, which should be impleaded in any litigation involving
property registered in its name. A violation of this rule will result in the dismissal of the complaint. We
cannot understand why both the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals sidestepped this issue when
it was squarely raised before them by petitioner.
D E C I S I O N
MENDOZA, J p:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision 1 of the Court of Appeals, dated November 29,
1990, which reversed the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 273, Marikina, Metro Manila, dated
April 11, 1995. The trial court dismissed the petition for declaration of nullity of a deed of sale filed by
private respondent Felicidad S. Vda. de Abrogar against petitioner Alfredo N. Aguila, Jr. cdrep
The facts are as follows:
Petitioner is the manager of A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co., a partnership engaged in lending activities. Private
respondent and her late husband, Ruben M. Abrogar, were the registered owners of a house and lot,
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 195101, in Marikina, Metro Manila. On April 18, 1991, private
respondent, with the consent of her late husband, and A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co., represented by petitioner,
entered into a Memorandum of Agreement, which provided:
(1) That the SECOND PARTY [A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co.] shall buy the above-
described property from the FIRST PARTY [Felicidad S. Vda. de Abrogar],
and pursuant to this agreement, a Deed of Absolute Sale shall be executed
by the FIRST PARTY conveying the property to the SECOND PARTY for and
in consideration of the sum of Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00),
Philippine Currency;
(2) The FIRST PARTY is hereby given by the SECOND PARTY the option to
repurchase the said property within a period of ninety (90) days from the
execution of this memorandum of agreement effective April 18, 1991, for
the amount of TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THOUSAND PESOS (P230,000.00);
(3) In the event that the FIRST PARTY fail to exercise her option to
repurchase the said property within a period of ninety (90) days, the FIRST
PARTY is obliged to deliver peacefully the possession of the property to the
SECOND PARTY within fifteen (15) days after the expiration of the said 90
day grace period;
(4) During the said grace period, the FIRST PARTY obliges herself not to file
any lis pendens or whatever claims on the property nor shall be cause the
annotation of say claim at the back of the title to the said property;
(5) With the execution of the deed of absolute sale, the FIRST PARTY
warrants her ownership of the property and shall defend the rights of the
SECOND PARTY against any party whom may have any interests over the
property;
(6) All expenses for documentation and other incidental expenses shall be
for the account of the FIRST PARTY;
(7) Should the FIRST PARTY fail to deliver peaceful possession of the
property to the SECOND PARTY after the expiration of the 15-day grace
period given in paragraph 3 above, the FIRST PARTY shall pay an amount
equivalent to Five Percent of the principal amount of TWO HUNDRED
PESOS (P200.00) or P10,000.00 per month of delay as and for rentals and
liquidated damages;
(8) Should the FIRST PARTY fail to exercise her option to repurchase the
property within ninety (90) days period above-mentioned, this
memorandum of agreement shall be deemed cancelled and the Deed of
Absolute Sale, executed by the parties shall be the final contract
considered as entered between the parties and the SECOND PARTY shall
proceed to transfer ownership of the property above described to its name
free from lines and encumbrances. 2
On the same day, April 18, 1991, the parties likewise executed a deed of absolute sale, 3 dated June 11,
1991, wherein private respondent, with the consent of her late husband, sold the subject property to A.C.
Aguila & Sons, Co., represented by petitioner, for P200,000.00. In a special power of attorney dated the
same day, April 18, 1991, private respondent authorized petitioner to cause the cancellation of TCT No.
195101 and the issuance of a new certificate of title in the name of A.C. Aguila and Sons, Co., in the event
she failed to redeem the subject property as provided in the Memorandum of Agreement. 4
Private respondent failed to redeem the property within the 90-day period as provided in the Memorandum
of Agreement. Hence, pursuant to the special power of attorney mentioned above, petitioner caused the
cancellation of TCT No. 195101 and the issuance of a new certificate of title in the name of A.C. Aguila and
Sons, Co. 5
Private respondent then received a letter dated August 10, 1991 from Atty. Lamberto C. Nanquil, counsel
for A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co., demanding that she vacate the premises within 15 days after receipt of the
letter and surrender its possession peacefully to A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co. Otherwise, the latter would bring
the appropriate action in court. 6
Upon the refusal of private respondent to vacate the subject premises, A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co. filed an
ejectment case against her in the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 76, Marikina, Metro Manila. In a decision,
dated April 3, 1992, the Metropolitan Trial Court ruled in favor of A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co. on the ground
that private respondent did not redeem the subject property before the expiration of the 90-day period
provided in the Memorandum of Agreement. Private respondent appealed first to the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 163, Pasig, Metro Manila, then to the Court of Appeals, and later to this Court, but she lost in all the
cases.

Private respondent then filed a petition for declaration of nullity of a deed of sale with the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 273, Marikina, Metro Manila on December 4, 1993. She alleged that the signature of her
husband on the deed of sale was a forgery because he was already dead when the deed was supposed to
have been executed on June 11, 1991.
It appears, however, that private respondent had filed a criminal complaint for falsification against petitioner
with the Office of the Prosecutor of Quezon City which was dismissed in a resolution, dated February 14,
1994. prcd
On April 11, 1995, Branch 273 of RTC-Marikina rendered its decision:
Plaintiff's claim therefore that the Deed of Absolute Sale is a forgery
because they could not personally appear before Notary Public Lamberto
C. Nanquil on June 11, 1991 because her husband, Ruben Abrogar, died
on May 8, 1991 or one month and 2 days before the execution of the Deed
of Absolute Sale, while the plaintiff was still in the Quezon City Medical
Center recuperating from wounds which she suffered at the same vehicular
accident on May 8, 1991, cannot be sustained. The Court is convinced that
the three required documents, to wit: the Memorandum of Agreement, the
Special Power of Attorney, and the Deed of Absolute Sale were all signed
by the parties on the same date on April 18, 1991. It is a common and
accepted business practice of those engaged in money lending to prepare
an undated absolute deed of sale in loans of money secured by real estate
for various reasons, foremost of which is the evasion of taxes and
surcharges. The plaintiff never questioned receiving the sum of
P200,000.00 representing her loan from the defendant. Common sense
dictates that an established lending and realty firm like the Aguila & Sons,
Co. would not part with P200,000.00 to the Abrogar spouses, who are
virtual strangers to it, without the simultaneous accomplishment and
signing of all the required documents, more particularly the Deed of
Absolute Sale, to protect its interest.
xxx xxx xxx
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the case in caption is hereby
ORDERED DISMISSED, with costs against the plaintiff.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed. It held:
The facts and evidence show that the transaction between plaintiff-
appellant and defendant-appellee is indubitably an equitable mortgage.
Article 1602 of the New Civil Code finds strong application in the case at
bar in the light of the following circumstances.
First: The purchase price for the alleged sale with right to repurchase is
unusually inadequate. The property is a two hundred forty (240) sq.m. lot.
On said lot, the residential house of plaintiff-appellant stands. The property
is inside a subdivision/village. The property is situated in Marikina which is
already part of Metro Manila. The alleged sale took place in 1991 when the
value of the land had considerably increased.
For this property, defendant-appellee pays only a measly P200,000.00 or
P833.33 per square meter for both the land and for the house.
Second: The disputed Memorandum of Agreement specifically provides
that plaintiff-appellant is obliged to deliver peacefully the possession of the
property to the SECOND PARTY within fifteen (15) days after the expiration
of the said ninety (90) day grace period. Otherwise stated, plaintiff-
appellant is to retain physical possession of the thing allegedly sold.
In fact, plaintiff-appellant retained possession of the property "sold" as if
they were still the absolute owners. There was no provision for maintenance
or expenses, much less for payment of rent.
Third: The apparent vendor, plaintiff-appellant herein, continued to pay
taxes on the property "sold". It is well-known that payment of taxes
accompanied by actual possession of the land covered by the tax
declaration, constitute evidence of great weight that a person under whose
name the real taxes were declared has a claim of right over the land.
It is well-settled that the presence of even one of the circumstances in
Article 1602 of the New Civil Code is sufficient to declare a contract of sale
with right to repurchase an equitable mortgage.
Considering that plaintiff-appellant, as vendor, was paid a price which is
unusually inadequate, has retained possession of the subject property and
has continued paying the realty taxes over the subject property,
(circumstances mentioned in par. (1) (2) and (5) of Article 1602 of the New
Civil Code), it must be conclusively presumed that the transaction the
parties actually entered into is an equitable mortgage, not a sale with right
to repurchase. The factors cited are in support to the finding that the Deed
of Sale/Memorandum of Agreement with right to repurchase is in actuality
an equitable mortgage.
Moreover, it is undisputed that the deed of sale with right of repurchase
was executed by reason of the loan extended by defendant-appellee to
plaintiff-appellant. The amount of loan being the same with the amount of
the purchase price.
xxx xxx xxx
Since the real intention of the party is to secure the payment of debt, now
deemed to be repurchase price: the transaction shall then be considered to
be an equitable mortgage.
Being a mortgage, the transaction entered into by the parties is in the
nature of a pactum commissorium which is clearly prohibited by Article
2088 of the New Civil Code. Article 2088 of the New Civil Code reads:
ART. 2088. The creditor cannot appropriate the things given by
way of pledge or mortgage, or dispose of them. Any stipulation
to the contrary is null and void.
The aforequoted provision furnishes the two elements for pactum
commissorium to exist: (1) that there should be a pledge or mortgage
wherein a property is pledged or mortgaged by way of security for the
payment of principal obligation; and (2) that there should be a stipulation
for an automatic appropriation by the creditor of the thing pledged and
mortgaged in the event of non-payment of the principal obligation within
the stipulated period.
In this case, defendant-appellee in reality extended a P200,000.00 loan to
plaintiff-appellant secured by a mortgage on the property of plaintiff-
appellant. The loan was payable within ninety (90) days, the period within
which plaintiff-appellant can repurchase the property. Plaintiff-appellant will
pay P230,000.00 and not P200,000.00, the P30,000.00 excess is the
interest for the loan extended. Failure of plaintiff-appellee to pay the
P230,000.00 within the ninety (90) days period, the property shall
automatically belong to defendant-appellee by virtue of the deed of sale
executed.
Clearly, the agreement entered into by the parties is in the nature of
pactum commissorium. Therefore, the deed of sale should be declared
void as we hereby so declare to be invalid, for being violative of law. dctai
xxx xxx xxx
WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, the appealed decision is hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The questioned Deed of Sale and the
cancellation of the TCT No. 195101 issued in favor of plaintiff-appellant
and the issuance of TCT No. 267073 issued in favor of defendant-appellee
pursuant to the questioned Deed of Sale is hereby declared VOID and is
hereby ANNULLED. Transfer Certificate of Title No. 195101 of the Registry
of Marikina is hereby ordered REINSTATED. The loan in the amount of
P230,000.00 shall be paid within ninety (90) days from the finality of this
decision. In case of failure to pay the amount of P230,000.00 from the
period therein stated, the property shall be sold at public auction to satisfy
the mortgage debt and costs and if there is an excess, the same is to be
given to the owner.
Petitioner now contends that: (1) he is not the real party in interest but A.C. Aguila & Co., against which this
case should have been brought; (2) the judgment in the ejectment case is a bar to the filing of the
complaint for declaration of nullity of a deed of sale in this case; and (3) the contract between A.C. Aguila &
Sons, Co. and private respondent is a pacto de retro sale and not an equitable mortgage as held by the
appellate court. cdll
The petition is meritorious.
Rule 3, 2 of the Rules of Court of 1964, under which the complaint in this case was filed, provided that
"every action must be prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party in interest." A real party in
interest is one who would be benefited or injured by the judgment, or who is entitled to the avails of the
suit. 7 This ruling is now embodied in Rule 3, 2 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure. Any decision
rendered against a person who is not a real party in interest in the case cannot be executed. 8 Hence, a
complaint filed against such a person should be dismissed for failure to state a cause of action. 9
Under Art. 1768 of the Civil Code, a partnership "has a juridical personality separate and distinct from that
of each of the partners." The partners cannot be held liable for the obligations of the partnership unless it is
shown that the legal fiction of a different juridical personality is being used for fraudulent, unfair, or illegal
purposes. 10 In this case, private respondent has not shown that A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co., as a separate
juridical entity, is being used for fraudulent, unfair, or illegal purposes. Moreover, the title to the subject
property is in the name of A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co. and the Memorandum of Agreement was executed
between private respondent, with the consent of her late husband, and A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co.,
represented by petitioner. Hence, it is the partnership, not its officers or agents, which should be impleaded
in any litigation involving property registered in its name. A violation of this rule will result in the dismissal of
the complaint. 11 We cannot understand why both the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals
sidestepped this issue when it was squarely raised before them by petitioner.

Our conclusion that petitioner is not the real party in interest against whom this action should be
prosecuted makes it unnecessary to discuss the other issues raised by him in this appeal.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby REVERSED and the complaint against
petitioner is DISMISSED. cdll
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, Quisumbing, Buena and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.
Business Organization Partnership, Agency, Trust Identity Separate and Distinct
In April 1991, the spouses Ruben and Felicidad Abrogar entered into a loan agreement with a lending firm
called A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co., a partnership. The loan was for P200k. To secure the loan, the spouses
mortgaged their house and lot located in a subdivision. The terms of the loan further stipulates that in
case of non-payment, the property shall be automatically appropriated to the partnership and a deed of
sale be readily executed in favor of the partnership. She does have a 90 day redemption period.
Ruben died, and Felicidad failed to make payment. She refused to turn over the property and so the firm
filed an ejectment case against her (wherein she lost). She also failed to redeem the property within the
period stipulated. She then filed a civil case against Alfredo Aguila, manager of the firm, seeking for the
declaration of nullity of the deed of sale. The RTC retained the validity of the deed of sale. The Court of
Appeals reversed the RTC. The CA ruled that the sale is void for it is a pactum commissorium sale which is
prohibited under Art. 2088 of the Civil Code (note the disparity of the purchase price, which is the loan
amount, with the actual value of the property which is after all located in a subdivision).
ISSUE: Whether or not the case filed by Felicidad shall prosper.
HELD: No. Unfortunately, the civil case was filed not against the real party in interest. As pointed out by
Aguila, he is not the real party in interest but rather it was the partnership A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co. The
Rules of Court provide that every action must be prosecuted and defended in the name of the real party
in interest. A real party in interest is one who would be benefited or injured by the judgment, or who is
entitled to the avails of the suit. Any decision rendered against a person who is not a real party in interest
in the case cannot be executed. Hence, a complaint filed against such a person should be dismissed for
failure to state a cause of action, as in the case at bar.
Under Art. 1768 of the Civil Code, a partnership has a juridical personality separate and distinct from that
of each of the partners. The partners cannot be held liable for the obligations of the partnership unless it
is shown that the legal fiction of a different juridical personality is being used for fraudulent, unfair, or
illegal purposes. In this case, Felicidad has not shown that A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co., as a separate juridical
entity, is being used for fraudulent, unfair, or illegal purposes. Moreover, the title to the subject property
is in the name of A.C. Aguila & Sons, Co. It is the partnership, not its officers or agents, which should be
impleaded in any litigation involving property registered in its name. A violation of this rule will result in
the dismissal of the complaint.