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The Rule against Surplusage

A statute should not be interpreted in a way that renders a word superfluous. Thus,
any construction of a statute that does not give meaning to every word implicates
the rule against Surplusage
There is a presumption that the legislature put every word in the statute for a
reason. First, every word must be given meaning. Second, different words in the
same statute, particularly those in a list, cannot mean precisely the same thing.
However, the exceptions are that courts may reject words as Surplusage if the
words are completely meaningless or inconsistent with the legislatures intention as
plainly expressed in the statute.

G.R. No. 173473 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES versus BETH TEMPORADA.

Promulgated:
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SEPARATE OPINION
CORONA, J.:

A man cannot
suffer more punishment than
the law assigns, but he may
suffer less. William
Blackstone
[1]



For when lenity and cruelty
play for a kingdom, the gentler
gamester is the soonest
winner. William
Shakespeare
[2]



The application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law is one of the more
complicated and confusing topics in criminal law. It befuddles not a few students of
law, legal scholars and members of the bench and of the bar.
[3]
Fortunately, this
case presents a great opportunity for the Court to resolve with finality a
controversial aspect of the application and interpretation of the Indeterminate
Sentence Law. It is an occasion for the Court to perform its duty to formulate
guiding and controlling principles, precepts, doctrines or rules.
[4]
In the process, the
matter can be clarified, the public may be educated and the Court can exercise its
symbolic function of instructing bench and bar on the extent of protection given by
statutory and constitutional guarantees.
[5]


The fundamental principle in applying and interpreting criminal laws,
including the Indeterminate Sentence Law, is to resolve all doubts in favor of the
accused. In dubio pro reo. When in doubt, rule for the accused. This is in
consonance with the constitutional guarantee that the accused ought to be
presumed innocent until and unless his guilt is established beyond reasonable
doubt.
[6]


Intimately intertwined with the in dubio pro reo principle is the rule of
lenity. It is the doctrine that a court, in construing an ambiguous criminal statute
that sets out multiple or inconsistent punishments, should resolve the ambiguity in
favor of the more lenient punishment.
[7]


Lenity becomes all the more appropriate when this case is viewed through the
lens of the basic purpose of the Indeterminate Sentence Law to uplift and redeem
valuable human material, and prevent unnecessary and excessive deprivation of
personal liberty and economic usefulness.
[8]
Since the goal of the Indeterminate
Sentence Law is to look kindly on the accused, the Court should adopt an
application or interpretation that is more favorable to the accused.

It is on the basis of this basic principle of criminal law that I respectfully submit
this opinion.


THE BONE OF CONTENTION


The members of the Court are unanimous that accused-appellant Beth
Temporada was correctly found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of
illegal recruitment and estafa by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 33 and
the Court of Appeals. However, opinions differ sharply on the penalty that should
be imposed on accused-appellant for estafa. In particular, there is a debate on how
the Indeterminate Sentence Law should be applied in a case like this where there is
an incremental penalty when the amount embezzled exceeds P22,000 (by at
least P10,000).

In this connection, the relevant portion of Article 315 of the Revised Penal
Code provides:
ART. 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall
defraud another by any means mentioned hereinbelow shall be
punished by:

1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum
period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if the amount of
the fraud is over 12,000 pesos but does not exceed 22,000
pesos, and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty
provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum
period, adding one year for each additional 10,000 pesos; but
the total penalty which may be imposed shall in no case exceed
twenty years. In such case, and in connection with the accessory
penalties which may be imposed under the Revised Penal Code,
the penalty shall be termed prision mayor to reclusion temporal,
as the case may be.

x x x x x x x x x

On the other hand, the relevant portion of the Indeterminate Sentence
Law provides:
SECTION 1. Hereafter, in imposing a prison sentence for
an offense punished by the Revised Penal Code, or its
amendments, the court shall sentence the accused to an
indeterminate sentence the maximum term of which shall be
that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be
properly imposed under the rules of the said Code, and the
minimum which shall be within the range of the penalty next
lower to that prescribed by the Code for the offense; x x x

Jurisprudence shows that there are two schools of thought on the
incremental penalty in estafa vis--vis the Indeterminate Sentence Law. Under the
first school of thought, the minimum term is fixed at prision correccional while the
maximum term can reach up to reclusion temporal. This is the general
interpretation. It was resorted to in People v. Pabalan,
[9]
People v.
Benemerito,
[10]
People v. Gabres
[11]
and in a string of cases.
[12]


On the other hand, under the second school of thought, the minimum
term is one degree away from the maximum term and therefore varies as the
amount of the thing stolen or embezzled rises or falls. It is the line of
jurisprudence that follows People v. De la Cruz.
[13]
Among the cases of this genre
are People v. Romero,
[14]
People v. Dinglasan
[15]
and Salazar v. People.
[16]


The Court is urged in this case to adopt a consistent position by
categorically discarding one school of thought. Hence, our dilemma: which of the
two schools of thought should we affirm?



THE FIRST SCHOOL OF THOUGHT IS
MORE FAVORABLE TO THE ACCUSED

Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, in imposing a sentence, the court
must determine two penalties composed of the maximum and minimum terms,
instead of imposing a single fixed penalty.
[17]
Hence, the indeterminate sentence is
composed of a maximum term taken from the penalty imposable under the
Revised Penal Code and a minimum term taken from the penalty next lower to that
fixed in the said Code.

The maximum term corresponds to that which, in view of the attending
circumstances, could be properly imposed under the rules of the [Revised Penal]
Code. Thus, attending circumstances (such as mitigating, aggravating and other
relevant circumstances) that may modify the imposable penalty applying the rules
of the Revised Penal Code is considered in determining the maximum term. Stated
otherwise, the maximum term is arrived at after taking into consideration the
effects of attendant modifying circumstances.

On the other hand, the minimum term shall be within the range of the
penalty next lower to that prescribed by the *Revised Penal+ Code for the offense.
It is based on the penalty prescribed by the Revised Penal Code for the offense
without considering in the meantime the modifying circumstances.
[18]


The penalty prescribed by Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code for the
felony of estafa (except estafa under Article 315(2)(d))
[19]
is prision correccional in
its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period if the amount of the
fraud is over P12,000 but does not exceedP22,000. If it exceeds P22,000, the
penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period.
Moreover, where the amount embezzled is more than P22,000, an incremental
penalty of one year shall be added for every additional P10,000.

Thus, the Revised Penal Code imposes prision correccional in its maximum
period to prision mayor in its minimum period (or a period of four years, two
months and one day to eight years) if the amount of the fraud is more
than P12,000 but not more than P22,000. If it exceeds P22,000, the penalty is
imposed in its maximum period (or a period of six years, 8 months and 21 days to
eight years) with an incremental penalty of one year for each additional P10,000
subject to the limitation that the total penalty which may be imposed shall in no
case exceed 20 years.

Strictly speaking, the circumstance that the amount misappropriated by
the offender is more than P22,000 is a qualifying circumstance. InPeople v.
Bayot,
[20]
this Court defined a qualifying circumstance as a circumstance the effect
of which is not only to give the crime committed its proper and exclusive name
but also to place the author thereof in such a situation as to deserve no other
penalty than that especially prescribed for said crime. Applying the definition to
estafa where the amount embezzled is more than P22,000, the amount
involved ipso jureplaces the offender in such a situation as to deserve no other
penalty than the imposition of the penalty in its maximum period plus incremental
penalty, if warranted.
[21]
In other words, if the amount involved is more
than P22,000, then the offender shall be sentenced to suffer themaximum period
of the prescribed penalty with an incremental penalty of one year per
additional P10,000.

However, People v. Gabres considered the circumstance that more
than P22,000 was involved as a generic modifying circumstance which is material
only in the determination of the maximum term, not of the minimum term:
Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum
term of the penalty shall be that which, in view of the attending
circumstances, could be properly imposed under the Revised
Penal Code, and the minimum shall be within the range of the
penalty next lower to that prescribed for the offense. The
penalty next lower should be based on the penalty prescribed by
the Code for the offense, without first considering any modifying
circumstance attendant to the commission of the crime. The
determination of the minimum penalty is left by law to the
sound discretion of the court and it can be anywhere within the
range of the penalty next lower without any reference to the
periods into which into which it might be subdivided. The
modifying circumstances are considered only in the imposition
of the maximum term of the indeterminate sentence.

The fact that the amounts involved in the instant case
exceed P22,000.00 should not be considered in the initial
determination of the indeterminate penalty; instead,the matter
should be so taken as analogous to modifying circumstances in
the imposition of the maximum term of the full indeterminate
sentence. This interpretation of the law accords with the rule
that penal laws should be construed in favor of the accused.
Since the penalty prescribed by law for the estafa charged
against accused-appellant is prision correccional maximum
to prision mayor minimum, the penalty next lower would then
be prision correccional minimum to medium. Thus, the minimum
term of the indeterminate sentence should be anywhere within
six (6) months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two months
while the maximum term of the indeterminate sentence should
at least be six (6) years and one (1) day because the amounts
involved exceeded P22,000.00, plus an additional one (1) year
for each additional P10,000.00. (emphasis supplied)


If the circumstance that more than P22,000 was involved is considered as
a qualifying circumstance, the penalty prescribed by the Revised Penal Code for it
will be the maximum period of prision correccional in its maximum period
to prision mayor in its minimum period. This has a duration of six years, 8 months
and 21 days to eight years. The penalty next lower (which will correspond to the
minimum penalty of the indeterminate sentence) is the medium period of prision
correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, which
has a duration of five years, five months and 11 days to six years, eight months and
20 days.
[22]


If the circumstance is considered simply as a modifying circumstance (as
in Gabres), it will be disregarded in determining the minimum term of the
indeterminate sentence. The starting point will be prision correccional maximum
to prision mayor minimum and the penalty next lower will then be prision
correccional in its minimum to medium periods, which has a duration of six months
and one day to four years and two months.

From the foregoing, it is more favorable to the accused if the circumstance
(that more than P22,000 was involved) is to be considered as a modifying
circumstance, not as a qualifying circumstance. Hence, I submit that
the Gabres rule is preferable.

On the contrary, the second school of thought is invariably prejudicial to
the accused. By fixing the minimum term of the indeterminate sentence to one
degree away from the maximum term, the minimum term will always be longer
than prision correccional in its minimum to medium periods.

Worse, the circumstance (that more than P22,000 was embezzled) is not a
modifying circumstance but a part of the penalty, if adopted, will mean that the
minimum term of the indeterminate sentence will never be lower than the medium
period of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its
minimum period, the penalty next lower to the maximum period of prision
correccional in its maximum period toprision mayor in its minimum period.

THE SECOND SCHOOL OF THOUGHT
AND ITS SHORTCOMINGS

The primary defect of the so-called second school of thought is that it
contradicts the in dubio pro reo principle. It also violates the lenity rule. Instead, it
advocates a stricter interpretation with harsher effects on the accused. In
particular, compared to the first school of thought, it lengthens rather than
shortens the penalty that may be imposed on the accused. Seen in its proper
context, the second school of thought is contrary to the avowed purpose of the law
that it purportedly seeks to promote, the Indeterminate Sentence Law.

The second school of thought limits the concept of modifying
circumstance to either a mitigating or aggravating circumstance listed under
Articles 13 and 14 of the Revised Penal Code. It contends that the respective
enumerations under the said provisions are exclusive and all other circumstances
not included therein were intentionally omitted by the legislature. It further asserts
that, even assuming that the circumstance that more than P22,000 was embezzled
may be deemed as analogous to aggravating circumstances under Article 14, the
said circumstance cannot be considered as an aggravating circumstance because it
is only in mitigating circumstances that analogous circumstances are allowed and
recognized.
[23]
The second school of thought then insists that, since the
circumstance that more than P22,000 was involved is not among those listed under
Article 14, the said circumstance is not a modifying circumstance for purposes of
the Indeterminate Sentence Law.

The second school of thought therefore strictly construes the term
attending circumstances against the accused. It refuses to recognize anything
that is not expressed, takes the language used in its exact meaning and admits no
equitable consideration.

To the point of being repetitive, however, where the accused is
concerned, penal statutes should be interpreted liberally, not strictly.
The fact that there are two schools of thought on the matter by itself
shows that there is uncertainty as to the concept of attending or modifying
circumstances. Pursuant to the in dubio pro reo principle, the doubt must be
resolved in favor of the accused and not against him.

Moreover, laws must receive sensible interpretation to promote the ends
for which they are enacted.
[24]
The meaning of a word or phrase used in a statute
may be qualified by the purpose which induced the legislature to enact the statute.
The purpose may indicate whether to give a word or phrase a restricted or
expansive meaning.
[25]
In construing a word or phrase, the court should adopt the
interpretation that best serves the manifest purpose of the statute or promotes or
realizes its object.
[26]
Where the language of the statute is fairly susceptible to two
or more constructions, that which will most tend to give effect to the manifest
intent of the lawmaker and promote the object for which the statute was enacted
should be adopted.
[27]
Taken in conjunction with the lenity rule, a doubtful
provision of a law that seeks to alleviate the effects of incarceration ought to be
given an interpretation that affords lenient treatment to the accused.

The Indeterminate Sentence Law is intended to favor the accused,
particularly to shorten his term of imprisonment.
[28]
The reduction of his period of
incarceration reasonably helps uplift and redeem valuable human material, and
prevent unnecessary and excessive deprivation of personal liberty and economic
usefulness. The law, being penal in character, must receive an interpretation that
benefits the accused.
[29]
This Court already ruled that in cases where the
application of the law on indeterminate sentence would be unfavorable to the
accused, resulting in the lengthening of his prison sentence, said law on
indeterminate sentence should not be applied.
[30]
In the same vein, if an
interpretation of the Indeterminate Sentence Law is unfavorable to the accused
and will work to increase the term of his imprisonment, that interpretation should
not be adopted. It is also for this reason that the claim that the power of this Court
to lighten the penalty of lesser crimes carries with it the responsibility to impose a
greater penalty for grave penalties is not only wrong but also dangerous.

Nowhere does the Indeterminate Sentence Law prescribe that the
minimum term of the penalty be no farther than one degree away from the
maximum term. Thus, while it may be true that the minimum term of the penalty in
an indeterminate sentence is generally one degree away from the maximum term,
the law does not mandate that its application be rigorously and narrowly limited to
that situation.

THE PROPER INDETERMINATE
PENALTIES IN THESE CASES

From the above disquisition, I respectfully submit that the prevailing rule,
the so-called first school of thought, be followed. With respect to the
indeterminate sentence that may be imposed on the accused, I agree with the
position taken by Madame Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago.

Accordingly, I vote that the decision of the Court of Appeals
be AFFIRMED with the following modifications:

(1) in Criminal Case No. 02-208372, the accused be sentenced to an
indeterminate penalty of 4 years and 2 months of prision
correccionalas minimum, to 9 years, 8 months and 21 days
of prision mayor as maximum;
(2) in Criminal Case Nos. 02-208373, 02-208375, and 02-208376, the
accused be sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of 4 years and
2 months of prision correccional as minimum, to 10 years, 8
months and 21 days of prision mayor as maximum for each of the
aforesaid three estafa cases and
(3) in Criminal Case No. 02-208374, the accused be sentenced to an
indeterminate penalty of 4 years and 2 months of prision
correccionalas minimum, to 12 years, 8 months and 21 days
of prision mayor as maximum.


RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice



[1]
Commentaries on the Laws of England 92.
[2]
King Henry The Fifth, Act 3, Scene 6, Line 11.
[3]
A survey of criminal law jurisprudence will show that among the portions
of the ruling of trial courts and the appellate court that are most
commonly corrected by this Court is the application of the Indeterminate
Sentence Law. In fact, even this Court has grappled with the matter.
(See People v. Moises, [160 Phil. 845 (1975)] overruling People v.
Colman [103 Phil. 6 (1958)]; People v. Gonzales [73 Phil. 549 (1942)]
overturning People v. Co Pao [58 Phil. 545 (1933)] andPeople v.
Gayrama (60 Phil. 796 (1934)] and People v. Mape [77 Phil. 809 (1947)]
reversing People v. Haloot [64 Phil. 739 (1937)] which followed the Co
Pao ruling.)
[4]
See Salonga v. Cruz Pao, 219 Phil. 402 (1985).
[5]
Id.
[6]
See Section 14 (2), Constitution.
[7]
Blacks Law Dictionary, Eighth Edition (2004), p. 1359.
[8]
People v. Ducosin, 59 Phil. 109 (1933).
[9]
331 Phil. 64 (1996).
[10]
332 Phil. 710 (1996).
[11]
335 Phil. 242 (1997).
[12]
These cases include People v. Hernando, 375 Phil. 1078 (1999), People v.
Menil, 394 Phil. 433 (2000), People v. Logan, 414 Phil. 113 (2001), People v.
Gallardo, 436 Phil. 698 (2002), Garcia v. People, 457 Phil. 713 (2003)
andVasquez v. People, G.R. No. 159255, 28 January 2008, 542 SCRA 520.
[13]
383 Phil. 213 (2000).
[14]
365 Phil. 531 (1999).
[15]
437 Phil. 621 (2002).
[16]
439 Phil. 762 (2002).
[17]
People v. Ducosin, supra.
[18]
People v. Gonzales, supra note 3.
[19]
The penalty for estafa under Article 315(2)(d) is provided under PD 818
(Amending Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code by Increasing the
Penalties for Estafa Committed by Means of Bouncing Checks).
[20]
64 Phil. 269 (1937).
[21]
This is similar to the effect of the circumstance that the offender
intended to aid the enemy by giving notice or information that is useful to
the enemy in the crime of correspondence with hostile country under
Article 120(3) of the Revised Penal Code (which necessitates the
imposition of reclusion perpetua to death) or of the circumstance that the
offender be a public officer or employee in the crime of espionage under
Article 117 of the Revised Penal Code (which requires the imposition of
the penalty next higher in degree than that generally imposed for the
crime).
[22]
See Article 61(5) of the Revised Penal Code. If the penalty is any one of
the three periods of a divisible penalty, the penalty next lower in degree
shall be that period next following the given penalty. Thus, the penalty
immediately inferior to prision mayor in its maximum period is prision
mayor in its medium period (People v. Co Pao, supra note 3). If the penalty
is reclusion temporal in its medium period, the penalty next lower in
degree is reclusion temporal in its minimum period (People v.
Gayrama, supra note 3). The penalty prescribed by the Revised Penal
Code for a felony is a degree. If the penalty prescribed for a felony is one
of the three periods of a divisible penalty, that period becomes a degree,
and the period immediately below is the penalty next lower in
degree (Reyes, Luis B., The Revised Penal Code, Book Two, Fifteenth
Edition [2001], p. 700).
[23]
In particular, Article 13(10) expressly provides that any other
circumstances of a similar nature and analogous to those above
mentioned are treated as mitigating. Article 14, however, does not have a
similar provision.
[24]
Lo Cham v. Ocampo, 77 Phil. 636 (1946).
[25]
Krivenko v. Register of Deeds, 79 Phil. 461 (1947).
[26]
Muoz & Co. v. Hord, 12 Phil. 624 (1909).
[27]
Ty Sue v. Hord, 12 Phil. 485 (1909).
[28]
People v. Nang Kay, 88 Phil. 515 (1951).
[29]
Id.
[30]
Id.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-66469 July 29, 1986
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and ALFREDO QUIJANO, petitioners,
vs.
HON. BERNARDO SALAS (In his capacity as Presiding Judge of RTC, Cebu, Branch
VIII), MARIO ABONG, ALFREDO DE LEON, ERIWADWIN MONTEBON, ROMEO DE
GUZMAN, & EDUARDO MABUHAY, respondents.
Basilio E. Duaban for accused.

CRUZ, J.:
Mario Abong was originally charged with homicide in the Court of First Instance of
Cebu but before he could be arraigned the case was reinvestigated on motion of
the prosecution.
1
As a result of the reinvestigation, an amended information was
filed, with no bail recommended, to which he pleaded not guilty.
2
Trial
commenced, but while it was in progress, the prisoner, taking advantage of the first
information for homicide, succeeded in deceiving the city court of Cebu into
granting him bail and ordering his release; and so he escaped.
3
The respondent
judge, learning later of the trickery, cancelled the illegal bail bond and ordered
Abong's re-arrest.
4
But he was gone. Nonetheless, the prosecution moved that the
hearing continue in accordance with the constitutional provision authorizing trial in
absentia under certain circumstances.
5
The respondent judge denied the motion,
however, and suspended all proceedings until the return of the accused.
6
The order
of the trial court is now before us on certiorari and mandamus.
7

The judge erred. He did not see the woods for the trees. He mistakenly allowed
himself to be tethered by the literal reading of the rule when he should have
viewed it from the broader perspective of its intendment.
The rule is found in the last sentence of Article IV, Section 19, of the 1973
Constitution, reading in full as follows:
Section 19. In all criminal prosecution, the accused shall be
presumed innocent until the contrary is proved and shall enjoy
the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to he informed of
the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a
speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to
face, and to have compulsory process to secure the attendance of
witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. However,
after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence
of the accused provided that he has been duly notified and his
failure to appear is unjustified.
The purpose of this rule is to speed up the disposition of criminal cases, trial of
which could in the past be indefinitely deferred, and many times completely
abandoned, because of the defendant's escape. The old case ofPeople v.
Avancea
8
required his presence at certain stages of the trial which as a result, had
to be discontinued as long as the defendant had not re-appeared or remained at
large. As his right to be present at these stages was then held not waivable even by
his escape, such escape thus operated to the fugitive's advantage, and in mockery
of the authorities, insofar as the trial could not proceed as long as he had not been
recaptured.
The doctrine laid down in that case has been modified by Section 19, which now
allows trial in absentia, Now, the prisoner cannot by simply escaping thwart his
continued prosecution and possibly eventual conviction provided only that: a) he
has been arraigned; b) he has been duly notified of the trial; and c) his failure to
appear is unjustified.
The respondent judge was probably still thinking of the old doctrine when he ruled
that trial in absentia of the escapee could not be held because he could not be duly
notified under Section 19. He forgets that the fugitive is now deemed to have
waived such notice precisely because he has escaped, and it is also this escape that
makes his failure to appear at his trial unjustified. Escape can never be a legal
justification. In the past, his escape "rewarded" him by postponing all further
proceedings against him and in effect ultimately absolving him of the charge he was
facing. Under the present rule, his escape will, legally speaking, operate to Ms
disadvantage by preventing him from attending his trial, which will continue even in
his absence and most likely result in his conviction.
The right to be present at one's trial may now be waived except only at that stage
where the prosecution intends to present witnesses who will Identify the
accused.
9
Under Section 19, the defendant's escape will be considered a waiver of
this right and the inability of the court to notify him of the subsequent hearings will
not prevent it from continuing with his trial. He will be deemed to have received
due notice. The same fact of his escape will make his failure to appear unjustified
because he has, by escaping, placed himself beyond the pale, and protection, of the
law.
Trial in absentia was not allowed in Borja v. Mendoza
10
because it was held
notwithstanding that the accused had not been previously arraigned. His
subsequent conviction was properly set aside. But in the instant case, since all the
requisites are present, there is absolutely no reason why the respondent judge
should refuse to try the accused, who had already been arraigned at the time he
was released on the illegal bail bond. Abong should be prepared to bear the
consequences of his escape, including forfeiture of the right to be notified of the
subsequent proceedings and of the right to adduce evidence on his behalf and
refute the evidence of the prosecution, not to mention a possible or even probable
conviction.
We admonish against a too-literal reading of the law as this is apt to constrict rather
than fulfill its purpose and defeat the intention of its authors. That intention is
usually found not in "the letter that killeth but in the spirit that vivifieth," which is
not really that evanescent or elusive. As judges, we must look beyond and not be
bound by the language of the law, seeking to discover, by our own lights, the reason
and the rhyme for its enactment. That we may properly apply it according to its
ends, we need and must use not only learning but also vision.
The trial judge is directed to investigate the lawyer who assisted Mario Abong in
securing bail from the city court of Cebu on the basis of the withdrawn information
for homicide and to report to us the result of his investigation within sixty days.
WHEREFORE, the order of the trial court dated December 22, 1983, denying the
motion for the trial in absentia of the accused is set aside. The respondent judge is
directed to continue hearing the case against the respondent Mario Abong in
absentia as long as he has not reappeared, until it is terminated. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Yap (Chairman), Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera and Paras, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1 Rollo, pp. 5-6.
2 Ibid., P. 6.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid., pp. 6-7; 1973 Constitution, Art. IV, Sec. 19.
6 Ibid., pp. 30-31.
7 Ibid., p. 66.
8 32 O. G. 713.
9 Aquino v. Mil. Commission No. 2,63 SCRA 546; People v. The
Presiding Judge, 125 SCRA 269.
10 77 SCRA 422.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 72873 May 28, 1987
CARLOS ALONZO and CASIMIRA ALONZO, petitioners,
vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and TECLA PADUA, respondents.
Perpetuo L.B. Alonzo for petitioners.
Luis R. Reyes for private respondent.

CRUZ, J.:
The question is sometimes asked, in serious inquiry or in curious conjecture,
whether we are a court of law or a court of justice. Do we apply the law even if it is
unjust or do we administer justice even against the law? Thus queried, we do not
equivocate. The answer is that we do neither because we are a court both of law
and of justice. We apply the law with justice for that is our mission and purpose in
the scheme of our Republic. This case is an illustration.
Five brothers and sisters inherited in equal pro indiviso shares a parcel of land
registered in 'the name of their deceased parents under OCT No. 10977 of the
Registry of Deeds of Tarlac. 1
On March 15, 1963, one of them, Celestino Padua, transferred his undivided share
of the herein petitioners for the sum of P550.00 by way of absolute sale.
2
One year
later, on April 22, 1964, Eustaquia Padua, his sister, sold her own share to the same
vendees, in an instrument denominated "Con Pacto de Retro Sale," for the sum of P
440.00.
3

By virtue of such agreements, the petitioners occupied, after the said sales, an area
corresponding to two-fifths of the said lot, representing the portions sold to them.
The vendees subsequently enclosed the same with a fence. In 1975, with their
consent, their son Eduardo Alonzo and his wife built a semi-concrete house on a
part of the enclosed area.
4

On February 25, 1976, Mariano Padua, one of the five coheirs, sought to redeem
the area sold to the spouses Alonzo, but his complaint was dismissed when it
appeared that he was an American citizen .
5
On May 27, 1977, however, Tecla
Padua, another co-heir, filed her own complaint invoking the same right of
redemption claimed by her brother.
6

The trial court * also dismiss this complaint, now on the ground that the right had
lapsed, not having been exercised within thirty days from notice of the sales in 1963
and 1964. Although there was no written notice, it was held that actual knowledge
of the sales by the co-heirs satisfied the requirement of the law.
7

In truth, such actual notice as acquired by the co-heirs cannot be plausibly denied.
The other co-heirs, including Tecla Padua, lived on the same lot, which consisted of
only 604 square meters, including the portions sold to the petitioners .
8
Eustaquia
herself, who had sold her portion, was staying in the same house with her sister
Tecla, who later claimed redemption petition.
9
Moreover, the petitioners and the
private respondents were close friends and neighbors whose children went to
school together. 10
It is highly improbable that the other co-heirs were unaware of the sales and that
they thought, as they alleged, that the area occupied by the petitioners had merely
been mortgaged by Celestino and Eustaquia. In the circumstances just narrated, it
was impossible for Tecla not to know that the area occupied by the petitioners had
been purchased by them from the other. co-heirs. Especially significant was the
erection thereon of the permanent semi-concrete structure by the petitioners' son,
which was done without objection on her part or of any of the other co-heirs.
The only real question in this case, therefore, is the correct interpretation and
application of the pertinent law as invoked, interestingly enough, by both the
petitioners and the private respondents. This is Article 1088 of the Civil Code,
providing as follows:
Art. 1088. Should any of the heirs sell his hereditary rights to a
stranger before the partition, any or all of the co-heirs may be
subrogated to the rights of the purchaser by reimbursing him for
the price of the sale, provided they do so within the period of one
month from the time they were notified in writing of the sale by
the vendor.
In reversing the trial court, the respondent court ** declared that the notice
required by the said article was written notice and that actual notice would not
suffice as a substitute. Citing the same case of De Conejero v. Court of
Appeals 11 applied by the trial court, the respondent court held that that decision,
interpreting a like rule in Article 1623, stressed the need for written notice although
no particular form was required.
Thus, according to Justice J.B.L. Reyes, who was the ponente of the Court, furnishing
the co-heirs with a copy of the deed of sale of the property subject to redemption
would satisfy the requirement for written notice. "So long, therefore, as the latter
(i.e., the redemptioner) is informed in writing of the sale and the particulars
thereof," he declared, "the thirty days for redemption start running. "
In the earlier decision of Butte v. UY, 12 " the Court, speaking through the same
learned jurist, emphasized that the written notice should be given by the vendor
and not the vendees, conformably to a similar requirement under Article 1623,
reading as follows:
Art. 1623. The right of legal pre-emption or redemption shall not
be exercised except within thirty days from the notice in writing
by the prospective vendor, or by the vendors, as the case may be.
The deed of sale shall not be recorded in the Registry of Property,
unless accompanied by an affidavit of the vendor that he has
given written notice thereof to all possible redemptioners.
The right of redemption of co-owners excludes that of the
adjoining owners.
As "it is thus apparent that the Philippine legislature in Article 1623 deliberately
selected a particular method of giving notice, and that notice must be deemed
exclusive," the Court held that notice given by the vendees and not
the vendor would not toll the running of the 30-day period.
The petition before us appears to be an illustration of the Holmes dictum that "hard
cases make bad laws" as the petitioners obviously cannot argue against the fact
that there was really no written notice given by the vendors to their co-heirs.
Strictly applied and interpreted, Article 1088 can lead to only one conclusion, to wit,
that in view of such deficiency, the 30 day period for redemption had not begun to
run, much less expired in 1977.
But as has also been aptly observed, we test a law by its results; and likewise, we
may add, by its purposes. It is a cardinal rule that, in seeking the meaning of the
law, the first concern of the judge should be to discover in its provisions the in tent
of the lawmaker. Unquestionably, the law should never be interpreted in such a
way as to cause injustice as this is never within the legislative intent. An
indispensable part of that intent, in fact, for we presume the good motives of the
legislature, is to render justice.
Thus, we interpret and apply the law not independently of but in consonance with
justice. Law and justice are inseparable, and we must keep them so. To be sure,
there are some laws that, while generally valid, may seem arbitrary when applied in
a particular case because of its peculiar circumstances. In such a situation, we are
not bound, because only of our nature and functions, to apply them just the same,
in slavish obedience to their language. What we do instead is find a balance
between the word and the will, that justice may be done even as the law is obeyed.
As judges, we are not automatons. We do not and must not unfeelingly apply the
law as it is worded, yielding like robots to the literal command without regard to its
cause and consequence. "Courts are apt to err by sticking too closely to the words
of a law," so we are warned, by Justice Holmes again, "where these words import a
policy that goes beyond them." 13 While we admittedly may not legislate, we
nevertheless have the power to interpret the law in such a way as to reflect the will
of the legislature. While we may not read into the law a purpose that is not there,
we nevertheless have the right to read out of it the reason for its enactment. In
doing so, we defer not to "the letter that killeth" but to "the spirit that vivifieth," to
give effect to the law maker's will.
The spirit, rather than the letter of a statute determines its
construction, hence, a statute must be read according to its spirit
or intent. For what is within the spirit is within the letter but
although it is not within the letter thereof, and that which is
within the letter but not within the spirit is not within the statute.
Stated differently, a thing which is within the intent of the
lawmaker is as much within the statute as if within the letter; and
a thing which is within the letter of the statute is not within the
statute unless within the intent of the lawmakers. 14
In requiring written notice, Article 1088 seeks to ensure that the
redemptioner is properly notified of the sale and to indicate the
date of such notice as the starting time of the 30-day period of
redemption. Considering the shortness of the period, it is really
necessary, as a general rule, to pinpoint the precise date it is
supposed to begin, to obviate any problem of alleged delays,
sometimes consisting of only a day or two.
The instant case presents no such problem because the right of redemption was
invoked not days but years after the sales were made in 1963 and 1964. The
complaint was filed by Tecla Padua in 1977, thirteen years after the first sale and
fourteen years after the second sale. The delay invoked by the petitioners extends
to more than a decade, assuming of course that there was a valid notice that tolled
the running of the period of redemption.
Was there a valid notice? Granting that the law requires the notice to be written,
would such notice be necessary in this case? Assuming there was a valid notice
although it was not in writing. would there be any question that the 30-day period
for redemption had expired long before the complaint was filed in 1977?
In the face of the established facts, we cannot accept the private respondents'
pretense that they were unaware of the sales made by their brother and sister in
1963 and 1964. By requiring written proof of such notice, we would be closing our
eyes to the obvious truth in favor of their palpably false claim of ignorance, thus
exalting the letter of the law over its purpose. The purpose is clear enough: to make
sure that the redemptioners are duly notified. We are satisfied that in this case the
other brothers and sisters were actually informed, although not in writing, of the
sales made in 1963 and 1964, and that such notice was sufficient.
Now, when did the 30-day period of redemption begin?
While we do not here declare that this period started from the dates of such sales
in 1963 and 1964, we do say that sometime between those years and 1976, when
the first complaint for redemption was filed, the other co-heirs were actually
informed of the sale and that thereafter the 30-day period started running and
ultimately expired. This could have happened any time during the interval of
thirteen years, when none of the co-heirs made a move to redeem the properties
sold. By 1977, in other words, when Tecla Padua filed her complaint, the right of
redemption had already been extinguished because the period for its exercise had
already expired.
The following doctrine is also worth noting:
While the general rule is, that to charge a party with laches in the
assertion of an alleged right it is essential that he should have
knowledge of the facts upon which he bases his claim, yet if the
circumstances were such as should have induced inquiry, and the
means of ascertaining the truth were readily available upon
inquiry, but the party neglects to make it, he will be chargeable
with laches, the same as if he had known the facts. 15
It was the perfectly natural thing for the co-heirs to wonder why the spouses
Alonzo, who were not among them, should enclose a portion of the inherited lot
and build thereon a house of strong materials. This definitely was not the act of a
temporary possessor or a mere mortgagee. This certainly looked like an act of
ownership. Yet, given this unseemly situation, none of the co-heirs saw fit to object
or at least inquire, to ascertain the facts, which were readily available. It took all
of thirteen years before one of them chose to claim the right of redemption, but
then it was already too late.
We realize that in arriving at our conclusion today, we are deviating from the strict
letter of the law, which the respondent court understandably applied pursuant to
existing jurisprudence. The said court acted properly as it had no competence to
reverse the doctrines laid down by this Court in the above-cited cases. In fact, and
this should be clearly stressed, we ourselves are not abandoning the De Conejero
and Buttle doctrines. What we are doing simply is adopting an exception to the
general rule, in view of the peculiar circumstances of this case.
The co-heirs in this case were undeniably informed of the sales although no notice
in writing was given them. And there is no doubt either that the 30-day period
began and ended during the 14 years between the sales in question and the filing of
the complaint for redemption in 1977, without the co-heirs exercising their right of
redemption. These are the justifications for this exception.
More than twenty centuries ago, Justinian defined justice "as the constant and
perpetual wish to render every one his due." 16 That wish continues to motivate
this Court when it assesses the facts and the law in every case brought to it for
decision. Justice is always an essential ingredient of its decisions. Thus when the
facts warrants, we interpret the law in a way that will render justice, presuming that
it was the intention of the lawmaker, to begin with, that the law be dispensed with
justice. So we have done in this case.
WHEREFORE, the petition is granted. The decision of the respondent court is
REVERSED and that of the trial court is reinstated, without any pronouncement as
to costs. It is so ordered.
Teehankee, C.J., Yap, Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera Gutierrez, Jr., Paras, Gancayco,
Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento and Cortes, JJ., concur.
Fernan and Feliciano, JJ., are on leave.
Footnotes
1 Rollo, p. 5.
2 Ibid, p. 6.
3 Id, p. 64,
5 Id. p. 21
6 Id, p. 21.
* Presided by Judge Cezar D. Francisco.
7 Id, p. 65.
8 Id, p. 5.
9 Id, p. 64.
10 Id, p. 26.
** Gaviola, Jr., P.J., ponente, Caguioa, Quetulio-Losa & Luciano, JJ.
11 16 SCRA 775.
12 4 SCRA 527.
13 Dissenting in Olmstead v. U.S., 277 U.S. 438.
14 Statutory Construction, Ruben E. Agpalo, pp. 64-65, 1986,
citing Manila Race Horse Trainers' Assn. v. De la Fuente, 88 Phil.
60; Go Chi v. Go Cho, 96 Phil. 622; Hidalgo v. Hidalgo, 33 SCRA
105; Roa v. Collector of Customs, 23 Phil. 315; Villanueva v. City of
Iloilo, 26 SCRA 578: People v. Purisima, 86 SCRA 542; US v. Go
Chico, 14 Phil. 128.
15 Ater v. Smith 245 111. 57, 19 Am. Cases 105.
16 Institutes 1, 1, pr. as cited in Handbook for Roman Law,
Miravite, Lorenzo F., p. 39, 1981,
THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 132051. June 25, 2001]
TALA REALTY SERVICES CORP., petitioner, vs. BANCO FILIPINO SAVINGS AND
MORTGAGE BANK, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
Stare decisis et non quieta movere. This principle of adherence to precedents
has not lost its luster and continues to guide the bench in keeping with the need to
maintain stability in the law.
The principle finds application to the case now before us.
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure, as amended, assailing the Resolution dated December 23, 1997 of
the Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. SP No. 44257.
Under Republic Act No. 337 (General Banking Act), commercial banks are
allowed to invest in real property subject to the limitation that:
Sec. 25. Any commercial bank may purchase, hold and convey real estate for the
following purposes:
(a) such as shall be necessary for its immediate accommodation in the transaction
of its business: Provided, however, that the total investment in such real estate and
improvements thereof, including bank equipment, shall not exceed fifty percent
(50%) of net worth x x x x x x . (Emphasis Ours)
Investments in real estate made by savings and mortgage banks are likewise
subject to the same limitation imposed by the aforequoted provision.
[1]

Bound by such limitation, the management of Banco Filipino Savings and
Mortgage Bank (Banco Filipino for brevity) devised means to pursue its endeavor to
expand its banking operations. To this end, Tala Realty Services Corporation (Tala
for brevity) was organized by Banco Filipinos four (4) major stockholders namely,
Antonio Tiu, Tomas B. Aguirre, Nancy Lim Ty and Pedro B. Aguirre. Tala and Banco
Filipino agreed on this scheme Tala would acquire the existing branch sites and
new branch sites which it would lease out to Banco Filipino.
On August 25, 1981, pursuant to their agreement, Banco Filipino sold its
eleven (11) branch sites all over the country to Tala. In turn Tala leased those sites
to Banco Filipino under contracts of lease executed by both parties on the same
day.
Years after, dissension between Tala and Banco Filipino arose in connection
with their lease contracts resulting in a chain of lawsuits for illegal detainer. Some
of these cases are still pending in courts. At present, three of the illegal detainer
cases have been passed upon by the Supreme Court.
The case at bar, involving Banco Filipinos Iloilo City branch site, is one of those
cases for illegal detainer filed by Tala against Banco Filipino based on these
grounds: (a) expiration of the period of lease and (b) non-payment of rentals.
The facts of the present controversy may be summed up as follows:
In its complaint in Civil Case No. 51(95) filed with the Municipal Trial Court
(MTC) of Iloilo City on March 29, 1995, Tala alleged that on the basis of a contract of
lease executed on August 25, 1981 which provides in part:
1. That the term of this LEASE shall be for a period of eleven (11) years,
renewable for another period of nine (9) years at the option of the LESSEE under
terms and conditions mutually agreeable to both parties.
[2]
,
its contract with Banco Filipino expired on August 31, 1992. However, Banco
Filipino has continued to occupy the premises even after the expiration of the lease.
On June 2, 1993, Tala imposed upon Banco Filipino the following terms and
conditions: that the bank should pay P70,050.00 as monthly rental retroactive as of
September 1, 1992, with rental escalation of 10% per year; and advance deposit
equivalent to rents for four months, plus a goodwill of P500,000.00.
Banco Filipino did not comply and in April 1994, it stopped paying rents.
In its letter dated April 14, 1994, Tala notified Banco Filipino that the lease
contract would no longer be renewed; that it should pay its back rentals, including
goodwill, deposit and adjusted rentals in the amount of P2,059, 540.00 and vacate
the premises on or before April 30, 1994.
[3]
In its second letter dated May 2, 1994,
Tala demanded upon Banco Filipino to pay the rents and vacate the premises.
[4]

In answer to Talas complaint, Banco Filipino denied having executed the lease
contract providing for a term of eleven (11) years; claiming that its contract with
Tala is for twenty (20) years, citing the Contract of Lease executed on August 25,
1981 providing:
That the term of this LEASE shall be for a period of twenty (20) years, renewable
for another period of twenty (20) years at the option of the LESSEE under terms and
conditions mutually agreeable to both parties.
[5]

On July 1, 1996, the MTC rendered judgment holding that the eleven (11)-year
lease contract superseded the twenty (20)-year lease contract. Thus, the court
ordered the ejectment of Banco Filipino from the premises on these grounds:
expiration of the eleven (11)-year lease contract and non-payment of the adjusted
rental. Banco Filipino was likewise ordered to pay back rentals in the amount of
P79,050.00 corresponding to the period from May 1994 up to the time that it shall
have surrendered to Tala possession of the premises.
[6]

On appeal, the Regional Trial Court, Branch 26, Iloilo City affirmed the MTC
decision.
[7]

Banco Filipino elevated the RTC decision to the Court of Appeals which
affirmed the challenged decision.
[8]

Banco Filipino sought for a reconsideration of the Court of Appeals Decision,
invoking in its Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration the Decisions of the same
court in two of the other illegal detainer cases initiated by Tala against Banco
Filipino, docketed as CA-G.R. SP Nos. 39104 and 40524. In these cases, the Court of
Appeals upheld the validity of the lease contract providing for a period of twenty
(20) years. Finding Banco Filipinos motions for reconsideration meritorious, the
Court of Appeals issued the herein assailed Resolution, thus:
This Court agrees with petitioner that its Decision of August 30, 1996 in CA-G.R. SP
No. 39104, having been declared final and executory by no less than the Supreme
Court in G.R. No. 127586, now constitutes the law of the case between the parties
in the present case. Accordingly, this Court is not at liberty to disregard or abandon
the same at will without wreaking havoc on said legal principle.
WHEREFORE, petitioners motion for reconsideration and supplemental motion for
reconsideration are hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the Courts Decision of August
25, 1997 is hereby SET ASIDE and, in lieu thereof, a new one is rendered REVERSING
and SETTING ASIDE the appealed decision and DISMISSING the complaint for
ejectment filed against herein petitioner in the Municipal Trial Court of Iloilo City.
[9]

Tala now comes to this Court on the lone ground that:
The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in considering that principle of the law of
the case finds application in the instant case.
[10]

Petitioner Tala contends that its complaint for illegal detainer should not have
been dismissed by the Court of Appeals on the basis of its decision in CA-G.R. SP No.
39104. Petitioner claims that this decision is not a precedent.
The first in the series of illegal detainer cases filed by Tala against the bank
which reached the Supreme Court is CA-G.R. SP No. 39104. This involves the site in
Malabon. The Court of Appeals held that Banco Filipino cannot be ejected from the
subject premises considering that the twenty (20)-year lease contract has not
expired. Tala elevated this Court of Appeals decision to the Supreme Court in G.R.
No. 127586. In a Resolution dated March 12, 1997, the Supreme Court dismissed
Talas petition as the appeal was not timely perfected, thus:
Considering the manifestation dated January 31, 1997 filed by petitioner that it is
no longer pursuing or holding in abeyance recourse to the Supreme Court for
reasons stated therein, the Court Resolved toDECLARE THIS CASE
TERMINATED and DIRECT the Clerk of Court to INFORM the parties that the
judgment sought to be reviewed has become final and executory, no appeal
therefrom having been timely perfected.
[11]

We agree with petitioner Tala that the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. SP No. 39104 holding that the twenty (20)-year contract of lease governs the
contractual relationship between the parties is not a precedent considering that the
Supreme Court in G.R. No. 127586 did not decide the case on the merits. The
petition was dismissed on mere technicality. It is significant to note, however, that
the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 129887,
[12]
through Mr. Justice Sabino R. de Leon,
resolved the identical issue raised in the present petition, i.e., whether the period
of the lease between the parties is twenty (20) or eleven (11) years, thus:
Second. Petitioner Tala Realty insists that its eleven (11)-year lease contract
controls. We agree with the MTC and the RTC, however, that the eleven (11)-year
contract is a forgery because (1) Teodoro O. Arcenas, then Executive Vice-President
of private respondent Banco Filipino, denied having signed the contract; (2) the
records of the notary public who notarized the said contract, Atty. Generoso S.
Fulgencio, Jr., do not include the said document; and (3) the said contract was
never submitted to the Central Bank as required by the latters rules and
regulations (Rollo, pp. 383-384.).
Clearly, the foregoing circumstances are badges of fraud and simulation that
rightly make any court suspicious and wary of imputing any legitimacy and validity
to the said lease contract.
Executive Vice-President Arcenas of private respondent Banco Filipino testified
that he was responsible for the daily operations of said bank. He denied having
signed the eleven (11)-year contract and reasoned that it was not in the interest of
Banco Filipino to do so (Rollo, p. 384). The fact was corroborated by Josefina C.
Salvador, typist of Banco Filipinos Legal Department, who allegedly witnessed the
said contract and whose initials allegedly appear in all the pages thereof. She
disowned the said marginal initials (id., p. 385).
The Executive Judge of the RTC supervises a notary public by requiring submission
to the Office of the Clerk of Court of his monthly notarial report with copies of
acknowledged documents thereto attached. Under this procedure and
requirement of the Notarial Law, failure to submit such notarial report and copies
of acknowledged documents has dire consequences including the possible
revocation of the notarys notarial commission.
The fact that the notary public who notarized petitioner Tala Realtys alleged
eleven (11)-year lease contract did not retain a copy thereof for submission to the
Office of the Clerk of Court of the proper RTC militates against the use of said
document as a basis to uphold petitioners claim. The said alleged eleven (11)-year
lease contract was not submitted to the Central Bank whose strict documentation
rules must be complied with by banks to ensure their continued good standing. On
the contrary, what was submitted to the Central Bank was the twenty (20)-year
lease contract.
Granting arguendo that private respondent Banco Filipino deliberately omitted to
submit the eleven (11)-year contract to the Central Bank, we do not consider that
fact as violative of the res inter alios acta aliis non nocet (Section 28, Rule 130,
Revised Rules of Court provides, viz.: Sec. 28. Admission by third party - The rights
of a party cannot be prejudiced by an act, declaration or omission of another,
except as hereinafter provided.; Compania General de Tabacos v. Ganson, 13 Phil.
472, 477 *1909+) rule in evidence. Rather, it is an indication of said contracts
inexistence.
It is not the eleven (11)-year lease contract but the twenty (20)-year lease contract
which is the real and genuine contract between petitioner Tala Realty and private
respondent Banco Filipino. Considering that the twenty (20)-year lease contract is
still subsisting and will expire in 2001 yet, Banco Filipino is entitled to the
possession of the subject premises for as long as it pays the agreed rental and
does not violate the other terms and conditions thereof (Art. 1673, New Civil
Code). (Emphasis supplied)
The validity of the twenty (20) year lease contract was further reinforced on
June 20, 2000 when the First Division of this Court, this time, speaking through
Madame Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, rendered a Decision in G.R. No. 137980,
likewise upholding the twenty (20)-year lease contract, thus:
In light of the foregoing recent Decision of this Court (G.R. No. 129887), we have
no option but to uphold the twenty-year lease contract over the eleven-year
contract presented by petitioner. It is the better practice that when a court has laid
down a principle of law as applicable to a certain state of facts, it will adhere to that
principle and apply it to all future cases where the facts are substantially the same.
Stare decisis et non quieta movere.
That the principle of stare decisis applies in the instant case, even though the
subject property is different, may be gleaned from the pronouncement in Negros
Navigation Co., Inc. vs. Court of Appeals[G.R. No. 110398, 281 SCRA 534, 542-543
(1997)], to wit
Petitioner criticizes the lower courts reliance on the Mecenas case, arguing that
although this case arose out of the same incident as that involved in Mecenas, the
parties are different and trial was conducted separately. Petitioner contends that
the decision in this case should be based on the allegations and defenses pleaded
and evidence adduced in it, or, in short, on the record of this case.
The contention is without merit. What petitioner contends may be true with
respect to the merits of the individual claims against petitioner but not as to the
cause of the sinking of its ship on April 22, 1980 and its liability for such accident, of
which there is only one truth. Otherwise, one would be subscribing to the
sophistry: truth on one side of the Pyrenees, falsehood on the other!
Adherence to the Mecenas case is dictated by this Courts policy of maintaining
stability in jurisprudence in accordance with the legal maxim stare decisis et non
quieta movere (Follow past precedents and do not disturb what has been
settled.) Where, as in this case, the same questions relating to the same event have
been put forward by parties similarly situated as in a previous case litigated and
decided by a competent court, the rule of stare decisis is a bar to any attempt to
relitigate the same issue (J.M. Tuason & Corp. v. Mariano, 85 SCRA 644
[1978]). In Woulfe v. Associated Realties Corporation (130 N.J. Eq. 519, 23 A. 2d
399, 401 [1942]), the Supreme Court of New Jersey held that where substantially
similar cases to the pending case were presented and applicable principles declared
in prior decisions, the court was bound by the principle of stare decisis. Similarly,
in State ex rel. Tollinger v. Gill (75 Ohio App., 62 N.E. 2d 760 [1944]), it was held that
under the doctrine of stare decisis a ruling is final even as to parties who are
strangers to the original proceeding and not bound by the judgment under the res
judicata doctrine. The Philadelphia court expressed itself in this wise: Stare
decisis simply declares that, for the sake of certainty, a conclusion reached in one
case should be applied to those which follow, if the facts are substantially the same,
even though the parties may be different (Heisler v. Thomas Colliery Co., 274 Pa.
448, 452, 118A, 394, 395 [1922]. Manogahela Street Ry, Co. v. Philadelphia Co., 350
Pa 603, 39 A. 2d 909, 916 *1944+; In re Burtts Estate, 353 Pa. 217, 4 A. 2d 670, 677
[1945]). Thus, in J.M. Tuason v. Mariano, supra, this Court relied on its rulings in
other cases involving different parties in sustaining the validity of a land title on the
principle of stare decisis et non quieta movere.(underscoring, Ours)
Here, therefore, even if the property subject of the Decision of G.R. No. 129887 is
located in Urdaneta, Pangasinan while that in the instant case is located in Davao,
we can very well apply the conclusion in G.R. No. 129887 that it is the twenty-year
lease contract which is controlling inasmuch as not only are the parties the same,
but more importantly, the issue regarding its validity is one and the same and,
hence, should no longer be relitigated.
Considering the above rulings, we hold that the term of the lease in the
present case is also twenty (20) years.
Resolving now the issue of whether or not respondent Banco Filipino should
be ejected for non-payment of rentals, the First Division of this Court in the same
G.R. No. 137980 held:
Coming now to the issue of whether or not respondent should be ejected for non-
payment of rentals, we do not agree with the ruling in G.R. No 129887 that since
the unpaid rentals demanded by petitioner were based on a new rate which it
unilaterally imposed and to which respondent did not agree, there lies no ground
for ejectment. In such a case, there could still be ground for ejectment based on
non-payment of rentals. The recent case of T & C Development Corporation vs.
Court of Appeals
[13]
is instructional on this point. It was there cautioned that
The trial court found that private respondent had failed to pay the monthly rental
of P1,800.00 from November 1992 to February 16, 1993, despite demands to pay
and to vacate the premises made by petitioner. Even if private respondent
deposited the rents in arrears in the bank, this fact cannot alter the legal situation
of private respondent since the account was opened in private respondents
name. Clearly, there was cause for the ejectment of private respondent. Although
the increase in monthly rentals from P700.00 to P1,800.00 was in excess of 20%
allowed by B.P. Blg. 877, as amended by R.A. No. 6828, what private respondent
could have done was to deposit the original rent of P700.00 either with the judicial
authorities or in a bank in the name of, and with notice to, petitioner. As this Court
held in Uy v. Court of Appeals (178 SCRA 671, 676 [1989]):
The records reveal that the new rentals demanded since 1979 (P150.00 per month)
exceed that allowed by law so refusal on the part of the lessor to accept was
justified. However, what the lessee should have done was to deposit in 1979 the
previous rent. This deposit in the Bank was made only in 1984 indicating a delay of
more than four years.
From the foregoing facts, it is clear that the lessor was correct in asking for the
ejectment of the delinquent lessee. Moreover, he should be granted not only the
current rentals but also all the rentals in arrears. This is so even if the lessor himself
did not appeal because as ruled by this Court, there have been instances when
substantial justice demands the giving of the proper reliefs. x x x
While advance rentals appear to have been made to be applied for the payment of
rentals due from the eleventh year to the twentieth year of the lease, to wit-
3. That upon the signing and execution of this Contract, the LESSEE shall pay the
LESSOR ONE MILLION TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS ONLY (P1,020,000.00) Philippine
Currency representing advance rental to be applied on the monthly rental for
period from the eleventh to the twentieth year,
the records show that such advance rental had already been applied for rent on
the property for the period of August, 1985 to November, 1989.
Thus, when respondent stopped paying any rent at all beginning April, 1994, it
gave petitioner good ground for instituting ejectment proceedings. We reiterate
the ruling in T & C Development Corporation, supra, that if ever petitioner took
exception to the unilateral or illegal increase in rental rate, it should not have
completely stopped paying rent but should have deposited the original rent amount
with the judicial authorities or in a bank in the name of, and with notice to,
petitioner. This circumstance, i.e., respondents failure to pay rent at the old rate,
does not appear in G.R. No. 129887. Thus, while we are bound by the findings of
this Courts Second Division in that case under the principle of stare decisis, the fact
that respondents failure to pay any rentals beginning April 1994, which provided
ground for its ejectment from the premises, justifies our departure from the
outcome of G.R. No. 129887. In this case, we uphold petitioners right to eject
respondent from the leased premises.
It bears stressing that the facts of the instant case and those of G.R. Nos.
129887 and 137980 are substantially the same. The only difference is the site of
respondent bank. The opposing parties are likewise the same.
Clearly, in light of the Decisions of this Court in G.R. Nos. 129887 and 137980,
which we follow as precedents, respondent Banco Filipino may not be ejected on
the ground of expiration of the lease. However, since it stopped paying the rents
beginning April 1994, its eviction from the premises is justified.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolution of the Court of
Appeals in CA- G.R. SP No. 44257 is MODIFIED insofar as it denies petitioner Talas
prayer for ejectment of respondent Banco Filipino.
Judgment is rendered ordering respondent Banco Filipino to vacate the
subject premises and to restore possession thereof to petitioner Tala. Respondent
is also ordered to pay Tala the monthly rental of P21,100.00 computed from April
1994 up to the time it vacates the premises.
Costs against respondent.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.
Panganiban, J., no part. Former counsel of a party.



[1]
Sec. 34. Savings and mortgage banks may purchase, hold and convey real estate
under the same conditions as those governing commercial banks as specified in
Section twenty-five of this Act.
[2]
Records, p. 106
[3]
Ibid., p. 118
[4]
Ibid., p. 120
[5]
Ibid., p. 136
[6]
Ibid., p. 152-172
[7]
Ibid., pp. 82-98
[8]
Ibid., pp. 490-496
[9]
Rollo, pp. 168-169
[10]
Petition for Review, p. 5, Rollo, p. 12
[11]
Ibid., p. 91
[12]
325 SCRA 768 (17 February 2000)
[13]
G.R. No. 118381, 26 October 1999.

Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

J.R.A. PHILIPPINES, INC., G.R. NO. 177127
Petitioner,
Present:

CORONA, C. J.,
Chairperson, -versus- VELASCO, JR.,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
DEL CASTILLO,
PEREZ, JJ.
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL
REVENUE, Promulgated:
Respondent. October 11, 2010
x--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

D E C I S I O N

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

Stare decisis et non quieta movere.

Courts are bound by prior decisions. Thus, once a case has been decided one way,
courts have no choice but to resolve subsequent cases involving the same issue in the same
manner.
[1]
We ruled then, as we rule now, that failure to print the word zero-rated in the
invoices/receipts is fatal to a claim for credit/refund of input value-added tax (VAT) on zero-
rated sales.

This Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
seeks to set aside the January 15, 2007 Decision
[2]
and the March 16, 2007

Resolution
[3]
of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) En Banc.

Factual Antecedents

Petitioner J.R.A. Philippines, Inc., a domestic corporation, is engaged in the
manufacture and wholesale export of jackets, pants, trousers, overalls, shirts, polo shirts,
ladies wear, dresses and other wearing apparel.
[4]
It is registered with the Bureau of Internal
Revenue (BIR) as a VAT taxpayer
[5]
and as an Ecozone Export Enterprise with the Philippine
Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
[6]


On separate dates, petitioner filed with the Revenue District Office (RDO) No. 54 of
the BIR, Trece Martires City, applications for tax credit/refund of unutilized input VAT on its
zero-rated sales for the taxable quarters of 2000 in the total amount
of P8,228,276.34, broken down as follows:

1
st
quarter P 2,369,060.97
2
nd
quarter 2,528,126.02
3
rd
quarter 1,918,015.38
4
th
quarter 1,413,073.97
[7]



The claim for credit/refund, however, remained unacted by the
respondent. Hence, petitioner was constrained to file a petition before the CTA.

Proceedings before the Second Division of the Court of Tax Appeals

On April 16, 2002, petitioner filed a Petition for Review
[8]
with the CTA for the
refund/credit of the same input VAT which was docketed as CTA Case No.

6454 and raffled to the Second Division of the CTA.

In his Answer,
[9]
respondent interposed the following special and affirmative
defenses, to wit:

4. Petitioners alleged claim for refund is subject to
administrative routinary investigation/examination by the Bureau;

5. Being allegedly registered with the Philippine Economic
Zone Authority as an export enterprise, petitioners business is not
subject to VAT pursuant to Section 24 of R.A. No. 7916 in relation to
Section 109 (q) of the Tax Code. Hence, it is not entitled to tax credit of
input taxes pursuant to Section 4.103-1 of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95;

6. The amount of P8,228,276.34 being claimed by petitioner
as alleged unutilized VAT input taxes for the year 2000 was not properly
documented;

7. In an action for refund, the burden of proof is on the
taxpayer to establish its right to refund, and failure to [do so] is fatal to
the claim for refund/ credit;

8. Petitioner must show that it has complied with the
provisions of Section 204 (c) and 229 of the Tax Code on the prescriptive
period for claiming tax refund/credit;

9. Claims for refund are construed strictly against the
claimant for the same partake the nature of exemption from taxation.
[10]



After trial, the Second Division of the CTA rendered a Decision
[11]
denying
petitioners claim for refund/credit of input VAT attributable to its zero-rated sales due to the
failure of petitioner to indicate its Taxpayers Identification Number-VAT (TIN-V) and the
word zero-rated on its invoices.
[12]
Thus, the fallo reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is
hereby DENIED DUE COURSE, and, accordingly, DISMISSED for lack of
merit.

SO ORDERED.
[13]


Aggrieved by the Decision, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration
[14]
to
which respondent filed an Opposition.
[15]
Petitioner, in turn, tendered a Reply.
[16]


The Second Division of the CTA, however, stood firm on its Decision and denied
petitioners Motion for lack of merit in a Resolution
[17]
dated October 5, 2005. This prompted
petitioner to elevate the matter to the CTA En Banc.
[18]


Ruling of the CTA En Banc

On January 15, 2007, the CTA En Banc denied the petition, reiterating that failure
to comply with invoicing requirements results in the denial of a claim for refund.
[19]
Hence, it
disposed of the petition as follows:

WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED for lack of
merit. ACCORDINGLY, the Decision dated June 30, 2005 and Resolution
dated October 5, 2005 of Second Division of the Court of Tax Appeals in
C.T.A Case No. 6454 are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
[20]



Presiding Justice Ernesto D. Acosta (Presiding Justice Acosta) concurred with the
findings of the majority that there was failure on the part of petitioner to comply with the
invoicing requirements;
[21]
he dissented, however, to the outright denial of petitioners claim
since there are other pieces of evidence proving petitioners transactions and VAT status.
[22]


Petitioner sought reconsideration
[23]
of the Decision but the CTA En Banc
denied the same in a Resolution
[24]
dated March 16, 2007. Presiding Justice Acosta
maintained his dissent.

Issue

Hence, the instant Petition with the solitary issue of whether the failure to print the
word zero-rated on the invoices/receipts is fatal to a claim for credit/ refund of input VAT
on zero-rated sales.

Petitioners Arguments

Petitioner submits that:

THE COURT OF TAX APPEALS ERRED BY DECIDING QUESTIONS OF
SUBSTANCE IN A MANNER THAT IS NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW AND
JURISPRUDENCE, IN THAT:

A. THE INVOICING REQUIREMENTS UNDER THE 1997 TAX CODE DO
NOT REQUIRE THAT INVOICES AND/OR RECEIPTS ISSUED BY A VAT-
REGISTERED TAXPAYER, SUCH AS THE PETITIONER, SHOULD BE
IMPRINTED WITH THE WORD ZERO-RATED.

B. THE INVOICING REQUIREMENTS PRESCRIBED BY THE 1997 TAX
CODE AND THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE WORDS ZERO-RATED
BE IMPRINTED ON THE SALES INVOICES/OFFICIAL RECEIPTS UNDER
REVENUE REGULATIONS NO. 7-95 ARE NOT EVIDENTIARY RULES
AND THE ABSENCE THEREOF IS NOT FATAL TO A TAXPAYERS CLAIM
FOR REFUND.

C. RESPONDENTS REGULATIONS ARE INVALID BECAUSE THEY DO
NOT IMPLEMENT THE 1997 TAX CODE BUT INSTEAD, [EXCEED] THE
LIMITATIONS OF THE LAW.

D. PETITIONER PRESENTED SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE THAT
UNEQUIVOCALLY PROVED PETITIONERS ZERO-RATED
TRANSACTIONS FOR THE YEAR 2000.

E. NO PREJUDICE CAN RESULT TO THE GOVERNMENT BY REASON
OF THE FAILURE OF PETITIONER TO IMPRINT THE WORD ZERO-
RATED ON ITS INVOICES. PETITIONERS CLIENTS FOR ITS ZERO-
RATED TRANSACTIONS CANNOT UNDULY BENEFIT FROM ITS
OMISSION CONSIDERING THAT THEY ARE NON-RESIDENT
FOREIGN CORPORATIONS [THAT] ARE NOT COVERED BY THE
PHILIPPINE VAT SYSTEM.

F. IN CIVIL CASE[S], SUCH AS CLAIMS FOR REFUND, STRICT
COMPLIANCE WITH TECHNICAL RULES OF EVIDENCE IS NOT
REQUIRED. MOREOVER, A MERE PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE
WILL SUFFICE TO JUSTIFY THE GRANT OF A CLAIM.
[25]



Respondents Arguments

Emphasizing that tax refunds are in the nature of tax exemptions which are strictly
construed against the claimant, respondent seeks the affirmance of the assailed Decision
and Resolution of the CTA En Banc.
[26]
He insists that the denial of petitioners claim for tax
credit/refund is justified because it failed to comply with the invoicing requirements under
Section 4.108-1
[27]
of Revenue Regulations No. 7-95.

Our Ruling

The petition is bereft of merit.

The absence of the word zero-
rated on the invoices/receipts is
fatal to a claim for credit/refund
of input VAT


The question of whether the absence of the word zero-rated on the
invoices/receipts is fatal to a claim for credit/refund of input VAT is not novel. This has been
squarely resolved inPanasonic Communications Imaging Corporation of
the Philippines (formerly Matsushita Business Machine Corporation of the Philippines) v.
Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
[28]
In that case, we sustained the denial of petitioners
claim for tax credit/refund for non-compliance with Section 4.108-1 of Revenue Regulations
No. 7-95, which requires the word zero rated to be printed on the invoices/receipts
covering zero-rated sales. We explained that:

Zero-rated transactions generally refer to the export sale of
goods and services. The tax rate in this case is set at zero. When applied
to the tax base or the selling price of the goods or services sold, such zero
rate results in no tax chargeable against the foreign buyer or customer.
But, although the seller in such transactions charges no output tax, he
can claim a refund of the VAT that his suppliers charged him. The seller
thus enjoys automatic zero rating, which allows him to recover the input
taxes he paid relating to the export sales, making him internationally
competitive.

For the effective zero rating of such transactions, however, the
taxpayer has to be VAT-registered and must comply with invoicing
requirements. x x x

x x x x

Petitioner Panasonic points out, however, that in requiring the
printing on its sales invoices of the word zero-rated, the Secretary of
Finance unduly expanded, amended, and modified by a mere regulation
(Section 4.108-1 of RR 7-95) the letter and spirit of Sections 113 and 237
of the 1997 NIRC, prior to their amendment by R.A. 9337. Panasonic
argues that the 1997 NIRC, which applied to its payments specifically
Sections 113 and 237 required the VAT-registered taxpayers receipts
or invoices to indicate only the following information:

(1) A statement that the seller is a VAT-registered
person, followed by his taxpayers
identification number (TIN);

(2) The total amount which the purchaser [paid] or
is obligated to pay to the seller with the
indication that such amount includes the
value-added tax;
(3) The date of transaction, quantity, unit cost and
description of the goods or properties or
nature of the service; and

(4) The name, business style, if any, address and
taxpayer's identification number (TIN) of the
purchaser, customer or client.

Petitioner Panasonic points out that Sections 113 and 237 did
not require the inclusion of the word zero-rated for zero-rated sales
covered by its receipts or invoices. The BIR incorporated this requirement
only after the enactment of R.A. 9337 on November 1, 2005, a law that
did not yet exist at the time it issued its invoices.

But when petitioner Panasonic made the export sales subject
of this case, i.e., from April 1998 to March 1999, the rule that applied was
Section 4.108-1 of RR 7-95, otherwise known as the Consolidated Value-
Added Tax Regulations, which the Secretary of Finance issued on
December 9, 1995 and [which] took effect on January 1, 1996. It already
required the printing of the word zero-rated on the invoices covering
zero-rated sales. When R.A. 9337 amended the 1997 NIRC on November
1, 2005, it made this particular revenue regulation a part of the tax code.
This conversion from regulation to law did not diminish the binding force
of such regulation with respect to acts committed prior to the enactment
of that law.

Section 4.108-1 of RR 7-95 proceeds from the rule-making
authority granted to the Secretary of Finance under Section 245 of the
1977 NIRC (Presidential Decree 1158) for the efficient enforcement of
the tax code and of course its amendments. The requirement is
reasonable and is in accord with the efficient collection of VAT from the
covered sales of goods and services. As aptly explained by the CTAs First
Division, the appearance of the word zero-rated on the face of invoices
covering zero-rated sales prevents buyers from falsely claiming input VAT
from their purchases when no VAT was actually paid. If, absent such
word, a successful claim for input VAT is made, the government would be
refunding money it did not collect.

Further, the printing of the word zero-rated on the invoice
helps segregate sales that are subject to 10% (now 12%) VAT from those
sales that are zero-rated. Unable to submit the proper invoices,
petitioner Panasonic has been unable to substantiate its claim for
refund.
[29]



Consistent with the foregoing jurisprudence, petitioners claim for credit/ refund of
input VAT for the taxable quarters of 2000 must be denied. Failure to print the word zero-
rated on the invoices/receipts is fatal to a claim for credit/ refund of input VAT on zero-rated
sales.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The assailed Decision
dated January 15, 2007 and the Resolution dated March 16, 2007 of the Court of Tax
Appeals En Banc are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.


MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
Associate Justice


WE CONCUR:



RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
Chairperson



PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
Associate Justice
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice




JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
Associate Justice






C E R T I F I C A T I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the
conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was
assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.



RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice



[1]
Agencia Exquisite of Bohol, Incorporated v. Commissioner of Internal
Revenue, G.R. Nos. 150141, 157359 and 158644, February 12, 2009, 578 SCRA
539, 550.
[2]
Rollo, pp. 75-95; penned by Associate Justice Lovell R. Bautista and concurred in by
Associate Justices Juanito C. Castaeda, Jr., Erlinda P. Uy, Caesar A. Casanova and Olga
Palanca-Enriquez. With Concurring and Dissenting Opinion of Presiding Justice Ernesto
D. Acosta., id. at 96-112.
[3]
Id. at 103-106; penned by Associate Justice Lovell R. Bautista and concurred in by
Associate Justices Juanito C. Castaeda, Jr., Erlinda P. Uy, Caesar A. Casanova and Olga
Palanca-Enriquez. With Concurring and Dissenting Opinion of Presiding Justice Ernesto
D. Acosta, id. at 107-112.
[4]
Id. at 113-114.
[5]
Id. at 114.
[6]
Id.
[7]
Id. at 21-22.
[8]
Id. at 113-118.
[9]
Id. at 119-121.
[10]
Id. at 119-120.
[11]
Id. at 152-169.
[12]
Id. at 163-167.
[13]
Id. at 169.
[14]
Id. at 170-192.
[15]
Id. at 193-199.
[16]
Id. at 200-211.
[17]
Id. at 213-214.
[18]
Id. at 219-254.
[19]
Id. at 93.
[20]
Id. at 94.
[21]
Id. at 96.
[22]
Id. at 102.
[23]
Id. at 324-345.
[24]
Id. at 103-112.
[25]
Id. at 22-23.
[26]
Id. at 411.
[27]
SECTION 4.108-1. Invoicing Requirements. All VAT-registered persons shall,
for every sale or lease of goods or properties or services, issue duly registered
receipts or sales or commercial invoices which must show:
1. the name, TIN and address of seller;
2. date of transaction;
3. quantity, unit cost and description of merchandise or nature of
service;
4. the name, TIN, business style, if any, and address of the VAT-
registered purchaser, customer or client;
5. the word zero rated imprinted on the invoice covering zero-rated
sales; and
6. the invoice value or consideration.
In the case of sale of real property subject to VAT and where the zonal or
market value is higher than the actual consideration, the VAT shall be
separately indicated in the invoice or receipt.
Only VAT-registered persons are required to print their TIN followed by the
word VAT in their invoices or receipts and this shall be considered as a VAT
Invoice. All purchases covered by invoices other than VAT Invoice shall not
give rise to any input tax.
If the taxable person is also engaged in exempt operations, he should issue
separate invoices or receipts for the taxable and the exempt operations. A
VAT Invoice shall be issued only for sales of goods, properties or services
subject to VAT imposed in Sections 100 and 102 of the Code.
The invoice or receipt shall be prepared at least in duplicate, the original to
be given to the buyer and the duplicate to be retained by the seller as part of
his accounting records.
[28]
G.R. No. 178090, 612 SCRA 28, February 8, 2010.
[29]
Id. at 34-37.

SECOND DIVISION

PHILIPPINE AMUSEMENT AND GAMING
CORPORATION (PAGCOR) represented by
ATTY. CARLOS R. BAUTISTA, JR.,
Petitioner,


- versus -


PHILIPPINE GAMING JURISDICTION
INCORPORATED
(PEJI), ZAMBOANGA CITYSPECIAL ECONOMIC
ZONE AUTHORITY, et al.,
Respondent.
G.R. No. 177333

Present:

CARPIO MORALES, J.,
Acting Chairperson,
TINGA,
VELASCO, JR.,
DE CASTRO,
*
and
BRION, JJ.



Promulgated:


April 24, 2009

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

D E C I S I O N

CARPIO MORALES, J.:


Before the Court is a petition for Prohibition.

Republic Act No. 7903 (R.A. No. 7903), which was enacted into law
on February 23, 1995, created the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone
(ZAMBOECOZONE) and the ZAMBOECOZONE Authority. Among other things, the
law gives the ZAMBOECOZONE Authority the following power under Sec. 7 (f), viz:
Section 7.

x x x x

(f) To operate on its own, either directly or through a subsidiary
entity, or license to others, tourism-related activities, including
games, amusements and recreational and sports facilities;

x x x x

Apparently in the exercise of its power granted under the above provision,
public respondent ZAMBOECOZONE Authority passed Resolution No. 2006-08-03
dated August 19, 2006 approving the application of private respondent Philippine E-
Gaming Jurisdiction, Inc. (PEJI) to be a Master Licensor/Regulator of on-
line/internet/electronic gaming/games of chance.

PEJI forthwith undertook extensive advertising campaigns representing
itself as such licensor/regulator to the international business and gaming
community, drawing the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)
to file the present petition for Prohibition which assails the authority of the
ZAMBOECOZONE Authority to operate, license, or regulate the operation of games
of chance in the ZAMBOECOZONE.

PAGCOR contends that R.A. No. 7903, specifically Section 7(f) thereof, does
not give power or authority to the ZAMBOECOZONE Authority to operate, license,
or regulate the operation of games of chance in the ZAMBOECOZONE. Citing three
(3) statutes, which it claims are in pari materia with R.A. No. 7903 as it likewise
created economic zones and provided for the powers and functions of their
respective governing and administrative authorities, PAGCOR posits that the grant
therein of authority to operate games of chance is clearly expressed, but it is not
similarly so in Section 7(f) of R.A. No. 7903.

Thus PAGCOR cites these three statutes and their respective pertinent
provisions:

Republic Act No. 7227, or the Bases Conversion and Development
Authority Act enacted on March 13, 1992:

Section 13. The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

x x x x

(b) Powers and functions of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, otherwise known as the
Subic Authority, shall have the following powers and functions:

x x x x

(7) To operate directly or indirectly or license tourism-
related activities subject to priorities and standards set by the
Subic Authority including games and amusements, except horse-
racing, dog-racing and casino gambling which shall continue to be
licensed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation
(PAGCOR) upon recommendation of the Conversion Authority; to
maintain and preserve the forested areas as a national park;

x x x x


Republic Act No. 7922 or the Cagayan Economic Zone Act of 1995 enacted
on February 24, 1995:

Section 6. Powers and Functions of the Cagayan
Economic Zone Authority The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority
shall have the following powers and functions:

x x x x

(f) To operate on its own, either directly or through a
subsidiary entity, or license to others, tourism-related activities,
including games, amusements, recreational and sports facilities
such as horse-racing, dog-racing gambling, casinos, golf courses,
and others, under priorities and standards set by the CEZA;

x x x x


And Republic Act No. 7916 or the Special Economic Zone Act of
1995, enacted on February 24, 1995 authorizing other economic zones established
under the defunct Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) and its successor
Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to establish casinos and other games of
chance under the license of PAGCOR by way of the ipso facto clause, viz:

SECTION 51. Ipso Facto Clause. - All privileges, benefits,
advantages or exemptions granted to special economic zones
under Republic Act No. 7227 shall ipso facto be accorded to
special economic zones already created or to be created under
this Act. The free port status shall not be vested upon the new
special economic zones.


PAGCOR maintains that, compared with the above-quoted provisions of
the ecozone-related statutes, Section 7(f) of R.A. No. 7903 does not categorically
empower the ZAMBOECOZONE Authority to operate, license, or authorize entities
to operate games of chance in the area, as the words games and amusement
employed therein do not include games of chance. Hence, PAGCOR concludes,
ZAMBOECOZONE Authoritys grant of license to private respondent PEJI encroached
on its (PAGCORs) authority under Presidential Decree No. 1869 vis-a-vis the above-
stated special laws to centralize and regulate all games of chance.

ZAMBOECOZONE Authority, in its Comment,
[1]
contends that PAGCOR has no
personality to file the present petition as it failed to cite a superior law which
proves its claim of having been granted exclusive right and authority to license and
regulate all games of chance within the Philippines; and that, contrary to PAGCORs
assertion, the words games and amusements in Section 7(f) of R.A. No. 7903
include games of chance as was the intention of the lawmakers when they
enacted the law.
In its Reply Ex Abundante Ad Cautelam,
[2]
PAGCOR cites the November 27,
2006 Opinion
[3]
rendered by the Office of the President through Deputy Executive
Secretary for Legal Affairs Manuel B. Gaite, the pertinent portions of which read:

Coming to the issue at hand, the ZAMBOECOZONE Charter
simply allows the operation of tourism-related activities including
games and amusements without stating any form of gambling
activity in its grant of authority to ZAMBOECOZONE.

x x x x

In view of the foregoing, we are of the opinion that under its
legislative franchise (RA 7903), the ZAMBOECOZONE is not
authorized to enter into any gaming activity by itself unless
expressly authorized by law or other laws specifically allowing the
same. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)


The Court finds that, indeed, R.A. No. 7903 does not authorize the
ZAMBOECOZONE Authority to operate and/or license games of chance/gambling.

Section 7(f) of R.A. No. 7903 authorizes the ZAMBOECOZONE Authority *t+o
operate on its own, either directly or through a subsidiary entity, or license to
others, tourism-related activities, including games, amusements and recreational
and sports facilities.

It is a well-settled rule in statutory construction that where the words of a
statute are clear, plain, and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning
and applied without attempted interpretation.
[4]


The plain meaning rule or verba legis, derived from the maxim index animi
sermo est (speech is the index of intention), rests on the valid presumption that the
words employed by the legislature in a statute correctly express its intention or will,
and preclude the court from construing it differently. For the legislature is
presumed to know the meaning of the words, to have used them advisedly, and to
have expressed the intent by use of such words as are found in the statute. Verba
legis non est recedendum. From the words of a statute there should be no
departure.
[5]


The words "game" and amusement have definite and unambiguous
meanings in law which are clearly different from "game of chance" or
gambling. In its ordinary sense, a game is a sport, pastime, or contest; while
an amusement is a pleasurable occupation of the senses, diversion, or
enjoyment.
[6]
On the other hand, a game of chance is a game in which chance
rather than skill determines the outcome, while gambling is defined as making a
bet or a play for value against an uncertain event in hope of gaining something of
value.
[7]


A comparison of the phraseology of Section 7(f) of R.A. No. 7903 with
similar provisions in the three cited statutes creating ECOZONES shows that while
the three statutes, particularly R.A. No. 7922 which authorized the Cagayan
Economic Zone Authority to directly or indirectly operate gambling and casinos
within its jurisdiction, categorically stated that such power was being vested in their
respective administrative bodies, R.A. No. 7903 did not.

The spirit and reason of the statute may be passed upon where a literal
meaning would lead to absurdity, contradiction, injustice, or defeat the clear
purpose of the lawmakers.
28
Not any of these instances is present in the case at
bar, however. Using the literal meanings of "games" and amusement to exclude
games of chance and gambling does not lead to absurdity, contradiction, or
injustice. Neither does it defeat the intent of the legislators. The lawmakers could
have easily employed the words "games of chance" and gambling or even
casinos if they had intended to grant the power to operate the same to the
ZAMBOECOZONE Authority, as what was done in R.A. No. 7922 enacted a day after
R.A. No. 7903. But they did not.

The Court takes note of the above-mentioned Opinion of the Office of the
President which, after differentiating the grant of powers between the Cagayan
Special Economic Zone and the ZAMBOECOZONE Authority, states that while the
former is authorized to, among other things, operate gambling casinos and internet
gaming, as well as enter into licensing agreements, the latter is not. The relevant
portions of said Opinion read:

The difference in the language and grant of powers to
CEZA and ZAMBOECOZONE is telling. To the former, the grant of
powers is not only explicit, but amplified, while to the latter the
grant of power is merely what the law (RA 7903) states. Not
only are the differences in language telling, it will be noted that
both charters of CEZA and ZAMBOECOZONE were signed into law
only one (1) day apart from each other, i.e., February 23, 1995 in
the case of ZAMBOECOZONE and February 24, 1995 in the case of
CEZA. x x xAccordingly, both laws have to be taken in the light of
what Congress intended them to be, and the distinction that the
lawmakers made when they enacted the two laws.
Coming to the issue at hand, the ZAMBOECOZONE
Charter simply allows the operation of tourism-related activities
including games and amusements without stating any form of
gambling activity in its grant of authority to
ZAMBOECOZONE. On the other hand, the grant to CEZA
included such activities as horse-racing, dog-racing and gambling
casinos.

x x x x
In view of the foregoing, we are of the opinion that under
its legislative franchise (RA 7903), the ZAMBOECOZONE is not
authorized to enter into any gaming activity by itself unless
expressly authorized by law or other laws specifically allowing
the same. (Emphasis supplied)


Both PAGCOR and the Ecozones being under the supervision of the Office
of the President, the latters interpretation of R.A. No. 7903 is persuasive and
deserves respect under the doctrine of respect for administrative or practical
construction. In applying said doctrine, courts often refer to several factors which
may be regarded as bases thereof factors leading the courts to give the principle
controlling weight in particular instances, or as independent rules in themselves.
These factors include the respect due the governmental agencies charged with
administration, their competence, expertness, experience, and informed
judgment and the fact that they frequently are the drafters of the law they
interpret; that the agency is the one on which the legislature must rely to advise
it as to the practical working out of the statute, and practical application of the
statute presents the agency with unique opportunity and experiences for
discovering deficiencies, inaccuracies, or improvements in the statute.
[8]


In fine, Section 7(f) did not grant to the ZAMBOECOZONE Authority the
power to operate and/or license games of chance/gambling.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Public respondent Zamboanga
Economic Zone Authority is DIRECTED to CEASE and DESIST from exercising
jurisdiction to operate, license, or otherwise
authorize and regulate the operation of any games of chance. And private
respondent Philippine Gaming Jurisdiction, Incorporated is DIRECTED to CEASE and
DESIST from operating any games of chance pursuant to the license granted to it by
public respondent.

SO ORDERED.


CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice
Acting Chairperson



WE CONCUR:





DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
Associate Justice





TERESITA J. LEONARDO DE CASTRO
Associate Justice

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice


ATTESTATION


I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.


CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice
Acting Chairperson




CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above decision had
been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Courts Division.



REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice








*
Additional member in lieu of Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing who is on official
leave.
[1]
Rollo, pp. 75-85.
[2]
Id. at 99-109.
[3]
Annex A of Reply, id. at 111-113.
[4]
Vide National Food Authority (NFA) v. Masada Security Agency, Inc., G.R. No.
163448, March 8, 2005, 453 SCRA 70, 79; Philippine National Bank v. Garcia,
Jr., G.R. No. 141246, September 9, 2002, 388 SCRA 485, 487, 491.
[5]
Id.
[6]
Blacks Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, West Publishing Co., St.
Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A., 1990, pp. 679 and 84.
[7]
Id. at 679.
[8]
Asturias v. Commissioner of Customs, G.R. No. L-19337, September 30, 1969,
29 SCRA 617, 623.
SECOND DIVISION


CYNTHIA S. BOLOS,
Petitioner,





- versus -




DANILO T. BOLOS,
Respondent.
G.R. No. 186400

Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
NACHURA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
*

PERALTA, and
MENDOZA, JJ.




Promulgated:
October 20, 2010
x -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

D E C I S I O N

MENDOZA, J.:


This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
seeking a review of the December 10, 2008 Decision
[1]
of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in an original action for certiorari under Rule 65 entitled Danilo T.
Bolos v. Hon. Lorifel Lacap Pahimna and Cynthia S. Bolos, docketed as CA-G.R. SP.
No. 97872, reversing the January 16, 2007 Order of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig
City, Branch 69 (RTC), declaring its decision pronouncing the nullity of marriage
between petitioner and respondent final and executory.
On July 10, 2003, petitioner Cynthia Bolos (Cynthia) filed a petition for the
declaration of nullity of her marriage to respondent Danilo Bolos (Danilo) under
Article 36 of the Family Code, docketed as JDRC No. 6211.

After trial on the merits, the RTC granted the petition for annulment in a
Decision, dated August 2, 2006, with the following disposition:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring the
marriage between petitioner CYNTHIA S. BOLOS and respondent
DANILO T. BOLOS celebrated onFebruary 14, 1980 as null and
void ab initio on the ground of psychological incapacity on the
part of both petitioner and respondent under Article 36 of the
Family Code with all the legal consequences provided by law.

Furnish the Local Civil Registrar of San Juan as well as the
National Statistics Office (NSO) copy of this decision.

SO ORDERED.
[2]


A copy of said decision was received by Danilo on August 25, 2006. He timely
filed the Notice of Appeal on September 11, 2006.

In an order dated September 19, 2006, the RTC denied due course to the
appeal for Danilos failure to file the required motion for reconsideration or new
trial, in violation of Section 20 of the Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void
Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages.

On November 23, 2006, a motion to reconsider the denial of Danilos appeal
was likewise denied.

On January 16, 2007, the RTC issued the order declaring its August 2,
2006 decision final and executory and granting the Motion for Entry of Judgment
filed by Cynthia.

Not in conformity, Danilo filed with the CA a petition for certiorari under
Rule 65 seeking to annul the orders of the RTC as they were rendered with grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction, to wit: 1) the
September 19, 2006 Order which denied due course to Danilos appeal; 2) the
November 23, 2006 Order which denied the motion to reconsider the September
19, 2006 Order; and 3) the January 16, 2007 Order which declared the August 2,
2006 decision as final and executory. Danilo also prayed that he be declared
psychologically capacitated to render the essential marital obligations to Cynthia,
who should be declared guilty of abandoning him, the family home and their
children.

As earlier stated, the CA granted the petition and reversed and set aside the
assailed orders of the RTC. The appellate court stated that the requirement of a
motion for reconsideration as a prerequisite to appeal under A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC
did not apply in this case as the marriage between Cynthia and Danilo was
solemnized on February 14, 1980 before the Family Code took effect. It relied on
the ruling of this Court in Enrico v. Heirs of Sps. Medinaceli
[3]
to the effect that the
coverage *of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC] extends only to those marriages entered into
during the effectivity of the Family Code which took effect on August 3, 1988.

Cynthia sought reconsideration of the ruling by filing her Manifestation with
Motion for Extension of Time to File Motion for Reconsideration and Motion for
Partial Reconsideration [of the Honorable Courts Decision dated December 10,
2008]. The CA, however, in its February 11, 2009 Resolution,
[4]
denied the motion
for extension of time considering that the 15-day reglementary period to file a
motion for reconsideration is non-extendible, pursuant to Section 2, Rule 40, 1997
Rules on Civil Procedure citingHabaluyas v. Japson, 142 SCRA 208. The motion for
partial reconsideration was likewise denied.

Hence, Cynthia interposes the present petition via Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court raising the following

I S S U E S

I
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN ISSUING THE
QUESTIONED DECISION DATED DECEMBER 10,
2008 CONSIDERING THAT:

A. THE PRONOUNCEMENT OF THE
HONORABLE COURT IN ENRICO V. SPS.
MEDINACELI IS NOT APPLICABLE TO THE
INSTANT CASE CONSIDERING THAT THE
FACTS AND THE ISSUE THEREIN ARE NOT
SIMILAR TO THE INSTANT CASE.

B. ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE
PRONOUNCEMENT OF THE HONORABLE
COURT IS APLLICABLE TO THE INSTANT
CASE, ITS RULING IN ENRICO V. SPS.
MEDINACELI IS PATENTLY ERRONEOUS
BECAUSE THE PHRASE UNDER THE
FAMILY CODE IN A.M. NO. 02-11-10-SC
PERTAINS TO THE WORD PETITIONS
RATHER THAN TO THE WORD
MARRIAGES.

C. FROM THE FOREGOING, A.M. NO. 02-11-
10-SC ENTITLED RULE ON DECLARATION
OF ABSOLUTE NULLITY OF VOID
MARRIAGES AND ANNULMENT OF
VOIDABLE MARRIAGES IS APPLICABLE TO
MARRIAGES SOLEMNIZED BEFORE THE
EFFECTIVITY OF THE FAMILY CODE. HENCE,
A MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION IS A
PRECONDITION FOR AN APPEAL BY HEREIN
RESPONDENT.

D. CONSIDERING THAT HEREIN RESPONDENT
REFUSED TO COMPLY WITH A
PRECONDITION FOR APPEAL, A
RELAXATION OF THE RULES ON APPEAL IS
NOT PROPER IN HIS CASE.

II
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN ISSUING THE
QUESTIONED RESOLUTION DATED FEBRUARY 11,
2009 CONSIDERING THE FOREGOING AND THE FACTUAL
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS CASE.

III
THE TENETS OF JUSTICE AND FAIR PLAY, THE NOVELTY AND
IMPORTANCE OF THE ISSUE AND THE SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES
IN THIS CASE JUSTIFY AND WARRANT A LIBERAL VIEW OF THE
RULES IN FAVOR OF THE PETITIONER. MOREOVER, THE INSTANT
PETITION IS MERITORIOUS AND NOT INTENDED FOR DELAY.
[5]


From the arguments advanced by Cynthia, the principal question to be
resolved is whether or not A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC entitled Rule on Declaration of
Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, is
applicable to the case at bench.

Petitioner argues that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is also applicable to marriages
solemnized before the effectivity of the Family Code. According to Cynthia, the CA
erroneously anchored its decision to an obiter dictum in the aforecited Enrico case,
which did not even involve a marriage solemnized before the effectivity of the
Family Code.

She added that, even assuming arguendo that the pronouncement in the
said case constituted a decision on its merits, still the same cannot be applied
because of the substantial disparity in the factual milieu of the Enrico case from this
case. In the said case, both the marriages sought to be declared null were
solemnized, and the action for declaration of nullity was filed, after the effectivity of
both the Family Code in 1988 and of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC in 2003. In this case, the
marriage was solemnized before the effectivity of the Family Code and A.M. No. 02-
11-10-SC while the action was filed and decided after the effectivity of both.

Danilo, in his Comment,
[6]
counters that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC is not
applicable because his marriage with Cynthia was solemnized on February 14, 1980,
years before its effectivity. He further stresses the meritorious nature of his appeal
from the decision of the RTC declaring their marriage as null and void due to his
purported psychological incapacity and citing the mere failure of the parties who
were supposedly remiss, but not incapacitated, to render marital obligations as
required under Article 36 of the Family Code.

The Court finds the petition devoid of merit.

Petitioner insists that A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC governs this case. Her stance is
unavailing. The Rule on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and
Annulment of Voidable Marriages as contained in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC which the
Court promulgated on March 15, 2003, is explicit in its scope. Section 1 of the Rule,
in fact, reads:

Section 1. Scope This Rule shall govern petitions for
declaration of absolute nullity of void marriages and annulment of
voidable marriages under the Family Code of the Philippines.

The Rules of Court shall apply suppletorily.

The categorical language of A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC leaves no room for
doubt. The coverage extends only to those marriages entered into during the
effectivity of the Family Code which took effect on August 3, 1988.
[7]
The rule sets a
demarcation line between marriages covered by the Family Code and those
solemnized under the Civil Code.
[8]


The Court finds Itself unable to subscribe to petitioners interpretation that
the phrase under the Family Code in A.M. No. 02-11-10-SC refers to the word
petitions rather than to the word marriages.

A cardinal rule in statutory construction is that when the law is clear and
free from any doubt or ambiguity, there is no room for construction or
interpretation. There is only room for application.
[9]
As the statute is clear, plain,
and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning and applied without
attempted interpretation. This is what is known as the plain-meaning rule or verba
legis. It is expressed in the maxim, index animi sermo, or speech is the index of
intention. Furthermore, there is the maxim verba legis non est recedendum, or
from the words of a statute there should be no departure.
[10]


There is no basis for petitioners assertion either that the tenets of
substantial justice, the novelty and importance of the issue and the meritorious
nature of this case warrant a relaxation of the Rules in her favor. Time and again
the Court has stressed that the rules of procedure must be faithfully complied with
and should not be discarded with the mere expediency of claiming substantial
merit.
[11]
As a corollary, rules prescribing the time for doing specific acts or for
taking certain proceedings are consideredabsolutely indispensable to prevent
needless delays and to orderly and promptly discharge judicial business. By their
very nature, these rules are regarded as mandatory.
[12]


The appellate court was correct in denying petitioners motion for
extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration considering that the
reglementary period for filing the said motion for reconsideration is non-
extendible. As pronounced in Apex Mining Co., Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal
Revenue,
[13]


The rule is and has been that the period for filing a
motion for reconsideration is non-extendible. The Court has
made this clear as early as 1986 in Habaluyas Enterprises vs.
Japzon. Since then, the Court has consistently and strictly
adhered thereto.

Given the above, we rule without hesitation that the
appellate courts denial of petitioners motion for reconsideration
is justified, precisely because petitioners earlier motion for
extension of time did not suspend/toll the running of the 15-day
reglementary period for filing a motion for reconsideration. Under
the circumstances, the CA decision has already attained finality
when petitioner filed its motion for reconsideration. It follows
that the same decision was already beyond the review jurisdiction
of this Court.

In fine, the CA committed no reversible error in setting aside the RTC decision
which denied due course to respondents appeal and denying petitioners motion
for extension of time to file a motion for reconsideration.

Appeal is an essential part of our judicial system. Its purpose is to bring up for
review a final judgment of the lower court. The courts should, thus, proceed with
caution so as not to deprive a party of his right to appeal.
[14]
In the recent case
of Almelor v. RTC of Las Pinas City, Br. 254,
[15]
the Court reiterated: While the right
to appeal is a statutory, not a natural right, nonetheless it is an essential part of our
judicial system and courts should proceed with caution so as not to deprive a party
of the right to appeal, but rather, ensure that every party-litigant has the amplest
opportunity for the proper and just disposition of his cause, free from the
constraints of technicalities.

In the case at bench, the respondent should be given the fullest
opportunity to establish the merits of his appeal considering that what is at stake is
the sacrosanct institution of marriage.

No less than the 1987 Constitution recognizes marriage as an inviolable social
institution. This constitutional policy is echoed in our Family Code. Article 1 thereof
emphasizes its permanence and inviolability, thus:




Article 1. Marriage is a special contract of permanent
union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance
with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the
foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose
nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not
subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix
the property relations during the marriage within the limits
provided by this Code.

This Court is not unmindful of the constitutional policy to protect and
strengthen the family as the basic autonomous social institution and marriage as
the foundation of the family.
[16]


Our family law is based on the policy that marriage is not a mere contract,
but a social institution in which the State is vitally interested. The State finds no
stronger anchor than on good, solid and happy families. The break up of families
weakens our social and moral fabric and, hence, their preservation is not the
concern alone of the family members.
[17]


WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.

SO ORDERED.




JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA
Associate Justice




WE CONCUR:




ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson





ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice Associate Justice





DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice


A T T E S T A T I O N

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.


ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had
been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Courts Division.



RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice



*
Designated as an additional member in lieu of Justice Roberto A. Abad, per Special
Order No. 905 dated October 5, 2010.
[1]
Rollo, pp. 43-48. Penned by Associate Justice Arcangelita M. Romilla-Lontok with
Associate Justices Mariano C. Del Castillo (now a member of this Court) and Romeo
F. Barza, concurring.
[2]
See Rollo, p. 8; see also Annex A of petition, rollo, p. 44.
[3]
G.R. No. 173614, September 28, 2007, 534 SCRA 418, 427-428.
[4]
Annex B of petition; rollo p. 49.
[5]
Rollo, pp. 12-14.
[6]
Id. at 329.
[7]
Supra note 3, citing Modequillo v. Breva, G.R. No. 86355, May 31, 1990, 185 SCRA
766,722.
[8]
Carlos v. Sandoval, G.R. No. 179922, December 16, 2008, 574 SCRA 116, 132.
[9]
Amores v. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, G.R. No. 189600, June
29,2010, citing Twin Ace Holdings Corporation v. Rufina and Company, G.R. No.
160191, June 8, 2006, 490 SCRA 368, 376.
[10]
Padua v. People, G.R. No. 168546, July 23, 2008, 559 SCRA 519, 531, citing R.
Agpalo, Statutory Construction 124 (5
th
ed., 2003).
[11]
Laguna Metts Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 185220, July 27, 2009,
594 SCRA 139, 143, citing Yutingco v. Court of Appeals, 435 Phil. 83 (2002).
[12]
Id., citing Gonzales v. Torres, A.M. No. MTJ-06-1653, July 30, 2007, 528 SCRA
490.
[13]
510 Phil. 268, 274 (2005).
[14]
Aguilar v. Court of Appeals, 320 Phil 456, 460 (1995).
[15]
G.R. No. 179620, August 26, 2008, 563 SCRA 447, 460-461, citing Salazar v. Court
of Appeals, 426 Phil 864, 877 (2002), citing Labad v. University of Southeastern
Philippines, 414 Phil 815, 826 (2001).
[16]
Almelor v. Regional Trial Court of Las Pinas City, Br. 253, G.R. No. 179620, August
26, 2008, 563 SCRA 447 citing 1987 Philippine Constitution, Art. II, Sec. 12 which
provides:
Sec. 12. The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect
and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. x x x
Art. XV, Secs. 1-2 which provides:
Sec. 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the
nation.
Accordingly, it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total
development.
Sec. 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the
family and shall be protected by the State.
[17]
Azcueta v. Republic, G.R. No. 180668, May 26, 2009, 588 SCRA 196, 205,
citing Ancheta v. Ancheta, G.R. No. 145370, March 4, 2004, 424 SCRA 725,
740; Tuason v. Court of Appeals, 326 Phil 169, 180-181 (1996).