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G.R. No.

131282

January 4, 2002

GABRIEL L. DUERO, petitioner,


vs.
HON.COURT OF APPEALS, and BERNARDO A.
ERADEL, respondents.
QUISUMBING, J.:
This petition for certiorari assails the Decisionl dated September
17, 1997, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. SP No.. 2340UDK, entitled Bernardo Eradel vs. Non. Ermelino G. Andal, setting
aside all proceedings in Civil Case No.1075, Gabriel L. Duero vs.
Bernardo Eradel, before the Branch 27 of the Regional Trial Court
of Tandag, Surigao del Sur .
The pertinent facts are as follow.
Sometime in 1988, according to petitioner, private respondent
Bemardo Eradel2 entered and occupied petitioner's land covered
by Tax Declaration No. A-16-13-302, located in Baras, San
Miguel, Surigao del Sur. As shown in the tax declaration, the land
had an assessed value of P5,240. When petitioner politely
informed private respondent that the land was his and requested
the latter to vacate the land, private respondent refused, but
instead threatened him with bodily harm. Despite repeated
demands, private respondent remained steadfast in his refusal to
leave the land.
On June 16, 1995, petitioner filed before the RTC a complaint for
Recovery of Possession and Ownership with Damages and
Attorney's Fees against private respondent and two others,
namely, Apolinario and Inocencio Ruena. Petitioner appended to
the complaint the aforementioned tax declaration. The counsel of
the Ruenas asked for extension to file their Answer and was given
until July 18, 1995. Meanwhile, petitioner and the, Ruenas
executed a compromise agreement, which became the trial
court's basis for a partial judgment rendered on January 12, 1996.
In this agreement, the Ruenas through their counsel, Atty. Eusebio
Avila, entered into a Compromise Agreement with herein
petitioner, Gabriel Duero. Inter alia, the agreement stated that the
Ruenas recognized and bound themselves to respect the
ownership and possession of Duero.3 Herein private respondent

Eradel was not a party to the agreement, and he was declared in


default for failure to file his answer to the complaint.4

trial court. On November 22, 1996, the RTC denied the motion for
reconsideration.

Petitioner presented his evidence ex parte on February 13, 1996.


On May 8, 1996, judgment was rendered in his favor, and private
respondent was ordered to peacefully vacate and turn over Lot
No.1065 Cad. 537-D to petitioner; pay petitioner P2,000 annual
rental from 1988 up the time he vacates the land, and P5,000 as
attorney's fees and the cost of the suit.5 Private respondent
received a copy of the decision on May 25, 1996.

On January 22, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion for Execution,


which the RTC granted on January 28. On February 18, 1997,
Entry of Judgment was made of record and a writ of execution
was issued by the RTC on February 27,1997. On March 12,1997,
private respondent filed his petition for certiorari before the Court
of Appeals.

On June 10, 1996, private respondent filed a Motion for New Trial,
alleging that he has been occupying the land as a tenant of
Artemio Laurente, Sr., since 1958. He explained that he turned
over the complaint and summons to Laurente in the honest belief
that as landlord, the latter had a better right to the land and was
responsible to defend any adverse claim on it. However, the trial
court denied the motion for new trial.1wphi1.nt
Meanwhile, RED Conflict Case No.1029, an administrative case
between petitioner and applicant-contestants Romeo, Artemio and
Jury Laurente, remained pending with the Office of the Regional
Director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
in Davao City. Eventually, it was forwarded to the DENR Regional
Office in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur .
On July 24, 1996, private respondent filed before the RTC a
Petition for Relief from Judgment, reiterating the same allegation
in his Motion for New Trial. He averred that unless there is a
determination on who owned the land, he could not be made to
vacate the land. He also averred that the judgment of the trial
court was void inasmuch as the heirs of Artemio Laurente, Sr.,
who are indispensable parties, were not impleaded.
On September 24, 1996, Josephine, Ana Soledad and Virginia, all
surnamed Laurente, grandchildren of Artemio who were claiming
ownership of the land, filed a Motion for Intervention. The RTC
denied the motion.
On October 8, 1996, the trial court issued an order denying the
Petition for Relief from Judgment. In a Motion for Reconsideration
of said order, private respondent alleged that the RTC had no
jurisdiction over the case, since the value of the land was only
P5,240 and therefore it was under the jurisdiction of the municipal

The Court of Appeals gave due course to the petition, maintaining


that private respondent is not estopped from assailing the
jurisdiction 'of the RTC, Branch 27 in Tandag, Surigao del Sur,
when private respondent filed with said court his Motion for
Reconsideration And/Or Annulment of Judgment. The Court of
Appeals decreed as follows:
IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Petition is
GRANTED. All proceedings in "Gabriel L. Duero vs.
Bernardo Eradel, et. al. Civil Case 1075" filed in the
Court a quo, including its Decision, Annex "E" of the
petition, and its Orders and Writ of Execution and the
turn over of the property to the Private Respondent by
the Sheriff of the Court a quo, are declared null and void
and hereby SET ASIDE, No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.6
Petitioner now comes before this Court, alleging that the Court of
Appeals acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
in excess of jurisdiction when it held that:
I.
...THE LOWER COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER
THE SUBJECT MA TTER OF THE CASE.
II
...PRIVATE RESPONDENT WAS NOT THEREBY
ESTOPPED FROM QUESTIONING THE
JURISDICTION OF THE LOWER COURT EVEN AFTER

IT SUCCESSFULLY SOUGHT AFFIRMATIVE RELIEF


THEREFROM.
III
...THE FAlLURE OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT TO FILE
HIS ANSWER IS JUSTIFIED. 7
The main issue before us is whether the Court of Appeals gravely
abused its discretion when it held that the municipal trial court had
jurisdiction, and that private respondent was not estopped from
assailing the jurisdiction of the RTC after he had filed several
motions before it. The secondary issue is whether the Court of
appeals erred in holding that private respondent's failure to file an
answer to the complaint was justified.
At the outset, however, we note that petitioner through counsel
submitted to this Court pleadings that contain inaccurate
statements. Thus, on page 5 of his petition,8 we find that to bolster
the claim that the appellate court erred in holding that the RTC
had no jurisdiction, petitioner pointed to Annex E9 of his petition
which supposedly is the Certification issued by the Municipal
Treasurer of San Miguel, Surigao, specifically containing the
notation, "Note: Subject for General Revision Effective 1994." But
it appears that Annex E of his petition is not a Certification but a
xerox copy of a Declaration of Real Property. Nowhere does the
document contain a notation, "Note: Subject for General Revision
Effective 1994." Petitioner also asked this Court to refer to Annex
F,10 where he said the zonal value of the disputed land was P1.40
per sq.m., thus placing the computed value of the land at the time
the complaint was filed before the RTC at P57,113.98, hence
beyond the jurisdiction of the municipal court and within the
jurisdiction of the regional trial court. However, we find that these
annexes are both merely xerox copies. They are obviously without
evidentiary weight or value.
Coming now to the principal issue, petitioner contends that
respondent appellate court acted with grave abuse of discretion.
By "grave abuse of discretion" is meant such capricious and
whimsical exercise of judgment which is equivalent to an excess
or a lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be so patent
and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a
virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in
contemplation of law as where the power is exercised in an

arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or


hostility.11 But here we find that in its decision holding that the
municipal court has jurisdiction over the case and that private
respondent was not estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of
the RTC, respondent Court of Appeals discussed the facts on
which its decision is grounded as well as the law and
jurisprudence on the matter.12 Its action was neither whimsical nor
capricious.
Was private respondent estopped from questioning the jurisdiction
of the RTC? In this case, we are in agreement with the Court of
Appeals that he was not. While participation in all stages of a case
before the trial court, including invocation of its authority in asking
for affirmative relief, effectively bars a party by estoppel from
challenging the court's jurisdiction,13 we note that estoppel has
become an equitable defense that is both substantive and
remedial and its successful invocation can bar a right and not
merely its equitable enforcement.14Hence, estoppel ought to be
applied with caution. For estoppel to apply, the action giving rise
thereto must be unequivocal and intentional because, if
misapplied, estoppel may become a tool of injustice.15
In the present case, private respondent questions the jurisdiction
of RTC in Tandag, Surigao del Sur, on legal grounds. Recall that it
was petitioner who filed the complaint against private respondent
and two other parties before the said court,16 believing that the
RTC had jurisdiction over his complaint. But by then, Republic Act
769117 amending BP 129 had become effective, such that
jurisdiction already belongs not to the RTC but to the MTC
pursuant to said amendment. Private respondent, an unschooled
farmer, in the mistaken belief that since he was merely a tenant of
the late Artemio Laurente Sr., his landlord, gave the summons to a
Hipolito Laurente, one of the surviving heirs of Artemio Sr., who
did not do anything about the summons. For failure to answer the
complaint, private respondent was declared in default. He then
filed a Motion for New Trial in the same court and explained that
he defaulted because of his belief that the suit ought to be
answered by his landlord. In that motion he stated that he had by
then the evidence to prove that he had a better right than
petitioner over the land because of his long, continuous and
uninterrupted possession as bona-fide tenant-lessee of the
land.18But his motion was denied. He tried an alternative recourse.
He filed before the RTC a Motion for Relief from Judgment. Again,
the same court denied his motion, hence he moved for
reconsideration of the denial. In his Motion for Reconsideration,

he raised for the first time the RTC's lack of jurisdiction. This
motion was again denied. Note that private respondent raised the
issue of lack of jurisdiction, not when the case was already on
appeal, but when the case, was still before the RTC that ruled him
in default, denied his motion for new trial as well as for relief from
judgment, and denied likewise his two motions for
reconsideration. After the RTC still refused to reconsider the
denial of private respondent's motion for relief from judgment, it
went on to issue the order for entry of judgment and a writ of
execution.
Under these circumstances, we could not fault the Court of
Appeals in overruling the RTC and in holding that private
respondent was not estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of
the regional trial court. The fundamental rule is that, the lack of
jurisdiction of the court over an action cannot be waived by the
parties, or even cured by their silence, acquiescence or even by
their express consent.19 Further, a party may assail the jurisdiction
of the court over the action at any stage of the proceedings and
even on appeal.20 The appellate court did not err in saying that the
RTC should have declared itself barren of jurisdiction over the
action. Even if private respondent actively participated in the
proceedings before said court, the doctrine of estoppel cannot still
be properly invoked against him because the question of lack of
jurisdiction may be raised at anytime and at any stage of the
action.21Precedents tell us that as a general rule, the jurisdiction of
a court is not a question of acquiescence as a matter of fact, but
an issue of conferment as a matter of law.22 Also, neither waiver
nor estoppel shall apply to confer jurisdiction upon a court, barring
highly meritorious and exceptional circumstances.23 The Court of
Appeals found support for its ruling in our decision in Javier vs.
Court of Appeals, thus:
x x x The point simply is that when a party commits error
in filing his suit or proceeding in a court that lacks
jurisdiction to take cognizance of the same, such act may
not at once be deemed sufficient basis of estoppel. It
could have been the result of an honest mistake, or of
divergent interpretations of doubtful legal provisions. If
any fault is to be imputed to a party taking such
course of action, part of the blame should be placed
on the court which shall entertain the suit, thereby
lulling the parties into believing that they pursued
their remedies in the correct forum. Under the rules, it
is the duty of the court to dismiss an action 'whenever it

appears that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject


matter.' (Sec. 2, Rule 9, Rules of Court) Should the Court
render a judgment without jurisdiction, such judgment
may be impeached or annulled for lack of jurisdiction
(Sec. 30, Rule 132, Ibid), within ten (10) years from the
finality of the same. [Emphasis ours.]24
Indeed, "...the trial court was duty-bound to take judicial notice of
the parameters of its jurisdiction and its failure to do so, makes its
decision a 'lawless' thing."25
Since a decision of a court without jurisdiction is null and void, it
could logically never become final and executory, hence appeal
therefrom by writ of error would be out of the question. Resort by
private respondent to a petition for certiorari before the Court of
Appeals was in order .
In holding that estoppel did not prevent private respondent from
questioning the RTC's jurisdiction, the appellate court reiterated
the doctrine that estoppel must be applied only in exceptional
cases, as its misapplication could result in a miscarriage of justice.
Here, we find that petitioner, who claims ownership of a parcel of
land, filed his complaint before a court without appropriate
jurisdiction. Defendant, a farmer whose tenancy status is still
pending before the proper administrative agency concerned, could
have moved for dismissal of the case on jurisdictional grounds.
But the farmer as defendant therein could not be expected to
know the nuances of jurisdiction and related issues. This farmer,
who is now the private respondent, ought not to be penalized
when he claims that he made an honest mistake when he initially
submitted his motions before the RTC, before he realized that the
controversy was outside the RTC's cognizance but within the
jurisdiction of the municipal trial court. To hold him in estoppel as
the RTC did would amount to foreclosing his avenue to obtain a
proper resolution of his case. Furthermore, if the RTC's order
were to be sustained, he would be evicted from the land
prematurely, while RED Conflict Case No.1029 would remain
unresolved. Such eviction on a technicality if allowed could result
in an injustice, if it is later found that he has a legal right to till the
land he now occupies as tenant-lessee.1wphi1.nt
Having determined that there was no grave abuse of discretion by
the appellate court in ruling that private respondent was not
estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the RTC, we need

not tarry to consider in detail the second issue. Suffice it to say


that, given the circumstances in this case, no error was committed
on this score by respondent appellate court. Since the RTC had
no jurisdiction over the case, private respondent had justifiable
reason in law not to file an answer, aside from the fact that he
believed the suit was properly his landlord's concern.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The assailed decision
of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. The decision of the
Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No.1075 entitled Gabriel L.
Duero vs. Bernardo Eradel, its Order that private respondent turn
over the disputed land to petitioner, and the Writ of Execution it
issued, areANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Costs against
petitioner .
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, Mendoza, De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur. Buena, J., on
official leave.

[G.R. No. 129638. December 8, 2003]

Of the 43 named defendants, only 20 (private respondents,


for brevity) filed a consolidated Answer dated June 29,
1994 wherein they denied non-payment of rentals. They contend
that they cannot be evicted because the Urban Land Reform Law
guarantees security of tenure and priority right to purchase the
subject property; and that there was a negotiation for the
purchase of the lots occupied by them but when the negotiation
reached a passive stage, they decided to continue payment of
rentals and tendered payment to petitioners counsel and
thereafter initiated a petition for consignation of the rentals in Civil
Case No. 144049 while they await the outcome of the negotiation
to purchase.
[5]

ANTONIO T. DONATO, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS,


FILOMENO ARCEPE, TIMOTEO BARCELONA,
IGNACIO
BENDOL,
THELMA P. BULICANO,
ROSALINDA CAPARAS, ROSITA DE COSTO, FELIZA
DE GUZMAN, LETICIA DE LOS REYES, ROGELIO
GADDI, PAULINO GAJARDO, GERONIMO IMPERIAL,
HOMER IMPERIAL, ELVIRA LESLIE, CEFERINO
LUGANA, HECTOR PIMENTEL, NIMFA PIMENTEL,
AURELIO G. ROCERO, ILUMINADA TARA, JUANITO
VALLESPIN, AND NARCISO YABUT, respondents.
DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari filed on July
17, 1997 which should be a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of
the Rules of Court. It assails the Resolutions[1] datedMarch 21,
1997 and June 23, 1997 issued by the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. SP No. 41394.[2]
The factual background of the case is as follows:
Petitioner Antonio T. Donato is the registered owner of a real
property located at Ciriaco Tuason Street, San Andres, Manila,
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 131793 issued by the
Register of Deeds of the City of Manila on November 24,
1978. On June 7, 1994, petitioner filed a complaint before the
Metropolitan Trial Court (Branch 26) of Manila (MeTC) for forcible
entry and unlawful detainer against 43 named defendants and all
unknown occupants of the subject property.[3]
Petitioner alleges that: private respondents had oral
contracts of lease that expired at the end of each month but were
impliedly renewed under the same terms by mere acquiescence
or tolerance; sometime in 1992, they stopped paying rent; on April
7, 1994, petitioner sent them a written demand to vacate; the noncompliance with said demand letter constrained him to file the
ejectment case against them.[4]

Following trial under the Rule on Summary Procedure, the


MeTC rendered judgment on September 19, 1994 against the 23
non-answering defendants, ordering them to vacate the premises
occupied by each of them, and to pay jointly and
severally P10,000.00 per month from the date they last paid their
rent until the date they actually vacate, plus interest thereon at the
legal rate allowed by law, as well as P10,000.00 as attorneys fees
and the costs of the suit. As to the 20 private respondents,
the MeTC issued a separate judgment[6] on the same day
sustaining their rights under the Land Reform Law, declaring
petitioners cause of action as not duly warranted by the facts and
circumstances of the case and dismissing the case without
prejudice.
Not satisfied with the judgment dismissing the complaint as
against the private respondents, petitioner appealed to the
Regional Trial Court (Branch 47) of Manila (RTC).[7] In a
Decision[8] dated July 5, 1996, the RTC sustained the decision of
the MeTC.
Undaunted, petitioner filed a petition for review with the
Court of Appeals (CA for brevity), docketed as CA-G.R. SP No.
41394. In a Resolution dated March 21, 1997, the CA dismissed
the petition on two grounds: (a) the certification of non-forum
shopping was signed by petitioners counsel and not by petitioner
himself, in violation of Revised Circular No. 28-91; [9] and, (b) the
only annex to the petition is a certified copy of the questioned
decision but copies of the pleadings and other material portions of
the record as would support the allegations of the petition are not

annexed, contrary to Section 3, paragraph b, Rule 6 of the


Revised Internal Rules of the Court of Appeals (RIRCA).[10]
On April 17, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion for
Reconsideration,[11] attaching thereto a photocopy of the
certification of non-forum shopping duly signed by petitioner
himself[12] and the relevant records of the MeTC and the RTC.
[13]
Five days later, or on April 22, 1997, petitioner filed a
Supplement[14] to his motion for reconsideration submitting the
duly authenticated original of the certification of non-forum
shopping signed by petitioner.[15]
In a Resolution[16] dated June 23, 1997 the CA denied
petitioners motion for reconsideration and its supplement, ruling
that petitioners subsequent compliance did not cure the defect in
the instant petition.[17]
Hence, the present petition anchored on the following
grounds:
I.
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN
DISMISSING THE PETITION BASED ON HYPER-TECHNICAL
GROUNDS BECAUSE:
A.

PETITIONER HAS SUBSTANTIALLY


COMPLIED WITH SUPREME COURT
CIRCULAR NO. 28-91. MORE, PETITIONER
SUBSEQUENTLY SUBMITTED DURING THE
PENDENCY OF THE PROCEEDINGS A DULY
AUTHENTICATED CERTIFICATE OF NONFORUM SHOPPING WHICH HE HIMSELF
SIGNED AND EXECUTED IN THE UNITED
STATES.

B.

PETITIONER HAS SUBSTANTIALLY


COMPLIED WITH SECTION 3, RULE 6 OF
THE REVISED INTERNAL RULES OF THE
COURT OF APPEALS. MORE, PETITIONER
SUBSEQUENTLY SUBMITTED DURING THE
PENDENCY OF THE PROCEEDINGS COPIES

OF THE RELEVANT DOCUMENTS IN THE


CASES BELOW.
C.

PETITIONER HAS A MERITORIOUS APPEAL,


AND HE STANDS TO LOSE SUBSTANTIAL
PROPERTY IF THE APPEAL IS NOT GIVEN
DUE COURSE. THE RULES OF PROCEDURE
MUST BE LIBERALLY CONSTRUED TO DO
SUBSTANTIAL JUSTICE.
II.

INTEND TO SELL THE SUBJECT PROPERTY,


AS IN THE CASE AT BAR.
C.

RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD


HAVE RULED THAT THE
RTC MANILA COMMITTED REVERSIBLE
ERROR IN RULING THAT THE SUBJECT
PROPERTY IS LOCATED WITHIN A ZONAL
IMPROVEMENT AREA OR APD.

D.

RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD


HAVE RULED THAT THE
RTC MANILA COMMITTED REVERSIBLE
ERROR IN NOT RULING THAT PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS NON-COMPLIANCE WITH
THE CONDITIONS UNDER THE LAW
RESULT IN THE WAIVER OF PROTECTION
AGAINST EVICTION.

RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT


RULING THAT ALL THE ELEMENTS OF UNLAWFUL DETAINER
ARE PRESENT IN THE CASE AT BAR.
III.
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RULING
THAT THE RTC MANILA, BRANCH 47, COMMITTED
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN AFFIRMING THE FINDING OF MTC
MANILA, BRANCH 26, THAT PRIVATE RESPONDENTS CANNOT
BE EJECTED FROM THE SUBJECT PROPERTY WITHOUT
VIOLATING THEIR SECURITY OF TENURE EVEN IF THE TERM
OF THE LEASE IS MONTH-TO-MONTH WHICH EXPIRES AT THE
END OF EACH MONTH. IN THIS REGARD,
A.

B.

RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD


HAVE RULED THAT THE
RTC MANILA COMMITTED REVERSIBLE
ERROR IN NOT RULING THAT TENANTS
UNDER P.D. 1517 MAY BE EVICTED FOR
NON-PAYMENT OF RENT, TERMINATION OF
LEASE OR OTHER GROUNDS FOR
EJECTMENT.
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD
HAVE RULED THAT THE
RTC MANILA COMMITTED REVERSIBLE
ERROR IN NOT RULING THAT THE
ALLEGED PRIORITY RIGHT TO BUY
THE LOT THEY OCCUPY DOES NOT APPLY
WHERE THE LANDOWNER DOES NOT

E.

F.

G.

RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD


HAVE RULED THAT THE
RTC MANILA COMMITTED REVERSIBLE
ERROR IN NOT RULING THAT PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS CANNOT BE ENTITLED TO
PROTECTION UNDER P.D. 2016 SINCE THE
GOVERNMENT HAS NO INTENTION OF
ACQUIRING THE SUBJECT PROPERTY.
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD
HAVE RULED THAT THE
RTC MANILA COMMITTED REVERSIBLE
ERROR IN FINDING THAT THERE IS AN ONGOING NEGOTIATION FOR THE SALE OF
THE SUBJECT PROPERTY AND THAT IT
RENDERS THE EVICTION OF PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS PREMATURE.
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS SHOULD
HAVE RULED THAT THE
RTC MANILA COMMITTED REVERSIBLE
ERROR IN NOT RULING THAT THE
ALLEGED CASE FOR CONSIGNATION DOES
NOT BAR THE EVICTION OF PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS.

IV.
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT
FINDING THAT RESPONDENTS SHOULD PAY PETITIONER A
REASONABLE COMPENSATION FOR THEIR USE AND
OCCUPANCY OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTY IN THE AMOUNT OF
AT LEAST P10,000.00 PER MONTH FROM THE DATE THEY LAST
PAID RENT UNTIL THE TIME THEY ACTUALLY VACATE THE
SAME, WITH LEGAL INTEREST AT THE MAXIMUM RATE
ALLOWED BY LAW UNTIL PAID.
V.
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT
FINDING THAT RESPONDENTS SHOULD PAY PETITIONER
ATTORNEYS FEES AND EXPENSES OF LITIGATION OF AT
LEAST P20,000.00, PLUS COSTS.[18]
Petitioner submits that a relaxation of the rigid rules of
technical procedure is called for in view of the attendant
circumstances showing that the objectives of the rule on
certification of non-forum shopping and the rule requiring material
portions of the record be attached to the petition have not been
glaringly violated and, more importantly, the petition is meritorious.
The proper recourse of an aggrieved party from a decision of
the CA is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court. However, if the error, subject of the recourse, is
one of jurisdiction, or the act complained of was perpetrated by a
court with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess
of jurisdiction, the proper remedy available to the aggrieved party
is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the said Rules. As
enunciated by the Court in Fortich vs. Corona:[19]
Anent the first issue, in order to determine whether the recourse of
petitioners is proper or not, it is necessary to draw a line between an
error of judgment and an error of jurisdiction. An error of judgment is
one which the court may commit in the exercise of its jurisdiction, and
which error is reviewable only by an appeal. On the other hand, an error
of jurisdiction is one where the act complained of was issued by the
court, officer or a quasi-judicial body without or in excess of jurisdiction,
or with grave abuse of discretion which is tantamount to lack or in
excess of jurisdiction. This error is correctible only by the extraordinary
writ of certiorari.[20] (Emphasis supplied).

Inasmuch as the present petition principally assails the dismissal


of the petition on ground of procedural flaws involving the
jurisdiction of the court a quo to entertain the petition, it falls within
the ambit of a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court.
At the time the instant petition for certiorari was filed, i.e.,
on July 17, 1997, the prevailing rule is the newly promulgated
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. However, considering that the CA
Resolution being assailed was rendered on March 21, 1997, the
applicable
rule
is
the
three-month reglementary period,
established by jurisprudence.[21] Petitioner received notice of the
assailed CA Resolution dismissing his petition for review on April
4, 1997. He filed his motion reconsideration on April 17, 1997,
using up only thirteen days of the 90-day period. Petitioner
received the CA Resolution denying his motion on July 3, 1997
and fourteen days later, or on July 17, 1997, he filed a motion for
30-day extension of time to file a petition for review which was
granted by us; and petitioner duly filed his petition on August 15,
1997, which is well-within the period of extension granted to him.
We now go to the merits of the case.
We find the instant petition partly meritorious.
The requirement regarding the need for a certification of
non-forum shopping in cases filed before the CA and the
corresponding sanction for non-compliance thereto are found in
the then prevailing Revised Circular No. 28-91. [22] It provides that
the petitioner himself must make the certification against forum
shopping and a violation thereof shall be a cause for the summary
dismissal of the multiple petition or complaint. The rationale for the
rule of personal execution of the certification by the petitioner
himself is that it is only the petitioner who has actual knowledge of
whether or not he has initiated similar actions or proceedings in
other courts or tribunals; even counsel of record may be unaware
of such fact.[23] The Court has ruled that with respect to the
contents of the certification, the rule on substantial compliance
may be availed of. This is so because the requirement of strict
compliance with the rule regarding the certification of non-forum
shopping simply underscores its mandatory nature in that the
certification cannot be altogether dispensed with or its
requirements completely disregarded, but it does not thereby

interdict substantial compliance with its provisions under justifiable


circumstances.[24]
The petition for review filed before the CA contains a
certification against forum shopping but said certification was
signed by petitioners counsel. In submitting the certification of
non-forum shopping duly signed by himself in his motion for
reconsideration,[25] petitioner has aptly drawn the Courts attention
to the physical impossibility of filing the petition for review within
the 15-day reglementary period to appeal considering that he is a
resident of 1125 South Jefferson Street, Roanoke, Virginia, U.S.A.
were he to personally accomplish and sign the certification.
We fully agree with petitioner that it was physically
impossible for the petition to have been prepared and sent to the
petitioner in the United States, for him to travel from Virginia,
U.S.A. to the nearest Philippine Consulate in Washington, D.C.,
U.S.A., in order to sign the certification before the Philippine
Consul, and for him to send back the petition to the Philippines
within the 15-day reglementary period. Thus, we find that
petitioner has adequately explained his failure to personally sign
the certification which justifies relaxation of the rule.
We have stressed that the rules on forum shopping, which
were precisely designed to promote and facilitate the orderly
administration of justice, should not be interpreted with such
absolute literalness as to subvert its own ultimate and legitimate
objective[26] which is simply to prohibit and penalize the evils of
forum-shopping.[27] The subsequent filing of the certification duly
signed by the petitioner himself should thus be deemed
substantial compliance, pro hac vice.
In like manner, the failure of the petitioner to comply with
Section 3, paragraph b, Rule 6 of the RIRCA, that is, to append to
his petition copies of the pleadings and other material portions of
the records as would support the petition, does not justify the
outright dismissal of the petition. It must be emphasized that the
RIRCA gives the appellate court a certain leeway to require
parties to submit additional documents as may be necessary in
the interest of substantial justice. Under Section 3, paragraph d of
Rule 3 of the RIRCA,[28] the CA may require the parties to
complete the annexes as the court deems necessary, and if the
petition is given due course, the CA may require the elevation of a
complete record of the case as provided for under Section 3(d)(5)

of Rule 6 of the RIRCA.[29] At any rate, petitioner attached copies


of the pleadings and other material portions of the records below
with his motion for reconsideration. [30] In Jaro vs. Court of Appeals,
[31]
the Court reiterated the doctrine laid down in Cusi-Hernandez
vs. Diaz[32] and Piglas-Kamao vs. National Labor Relations
Commission[33]that subsequent submission of the missing
documents with the motion for reconsideration amounts to
substantial compliance which calls for the relaxation of the rules of
procedure. We find no cogent reason to depart from this doctrine.
Truly, in dismissing the petition for review, the CA had
committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
jurisdiction in putting a premium on technicalities at the expense
of a just resolution of the case.
Needless to stress, "a litigation is not a game of
technicalities."[34] When technicality deserts its function of being an
aid to justice, the Court is justified in exempting from its operations
a particular case.[35] Technical rules of procedure should be used
to promote, not frustrate justice. While the swift unclogging of
court dockets is a laudable objective, granting substantial justice
is an even more urgent ideal.[36]
The Courts pronouncement in Republic vs. Court of
Appeals[37] is worth echoing: cases should be determined on
the merits, after full opportunity to all parties for ventilation
of their causes and defenses, rather than on technicality or
some procedural imperfections. In that way, the ends of
justice would be better served.[38] Thus, what should guide
judicial action is that a party litigant is given the fullest opportunity
to establish the merits of his action or defense rather than for him
to lose life, honor or property on mere technicalities.[39]This
guideline is especially true when the petitioner has satisfactorily
explained the lapse and fulfilled the requirements in his motion for
reconsideration,[40] as in this case.
In addition, petitioner prays that we decide the present
petition on the merits without need of remanding the case to the
CA. He insists that all the elements of unlawful detainer are
present in the case. He further argues that the alleged priority
right to buy the lot they occupy does not apply where the
landowner does not intend to sell the subject property, as in the
case; that respondents cannot be entitled to protection under P.D.
No. 2016 since the government has no intention of acquiring the

subject property, nor is the subject property located within a zonal


improvement area; and, that assuming that there is a negotiation
for the sale of the subject property or a pending case for
consignation of rentals, these do not bar the eviction of
respondents.
We are not persuaded. We shall refrain from ruling on the
foregoing issues in the present petition for certiorari. The issues
involved are factual issues which inevitably require the weighing
of evidence. These are matters that are beyond the province of
this Court in a special civil action for certiorari. These issues are
best addressed to the CA in the petition for review filed before
it. As an appellate court, it is empowered to require parties to
submit additional documents, as it may find necessary, or to
receive evidence, to promote the ends of justice, pursuant to the
last paragraph of Section 9, B.P. Blg. 129, otherwise known as
The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, to wit:
The Intermediate Appellate Court shall have the power to try cases and
conduct hearings, receive evidence and perform any and all acts
necessary to resolve factual issues raised in cases falling within its
original and appellate jurisdiction, including the power to grant and
conduct new trials or further proceedings.
WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTLY GRANTED. The
Resolutions dated March 21, 1997 and June 23, 1997 of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 41394 are REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. The case is REMANDED to the Court of Appeals for
further proceedings in CA-G.R. No. 41394, entitled, Antonio
T. Donato vs. Hon. Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
Branch 47, Filomeno Arcepe, et al.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Callejo, Sr., and Tinga, JJ.,
concur.

G.R. No. 144025

December 27, 2002

SPS. RENE GONZAGA and LERIO GONZAGA, petitioners,


vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, Second Division, Manila,
HON. QUIRICO G. DEFENSOR, Judge, RTC, Branch 36, Sixth
Judicial Region, Iloilo City,
and LUCKY HOMES, INC., represented by WILSON JESENA,
JR., as Manager, respondents.
DECISION
CORONA, J.:
Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the
reversal of the decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated December
29, 1999 and its resolution dated June 1, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No.
54587.
The records disclose that, sometime in 1970, petitioner-spouses
purchased a parcel of land from private respondent Lucky Homes,
Inc., situated in Iloilo and containing an area of 240 square
meters. Said lot was specifically denominated as Lot No. 19 under
Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 28254 and was mortgaged
to the Social Security System (SSS) as security for their housing
loan. Petitioners then started the construction of their house, not
on Lot No. 19 but on Lot No. 18, as private respondent mistakenly
identified Lot No. 18 as Lot No. 19. Upon realizing its error, private
respondent, through its general manager, informed petitioners of
such mistake but the latter offered to buy Lot No. 18 in order to
widen their premises. Thus, petitioners continued with the
construction of their house. However, petitioners defaulted in the
payment of their housing loan from SSS. Consequently, Lot No.
19 was foreclosed by SSS and petitioners certificate of title was
cancelled and a new one was issued in the name of SSS. After
Lot No. 19 was foreclosed, petitioners offered to swap Lot Nos. 18
and 19 and demanded from private respondent that their contract
of sale be reformed and another deed of sale be executed with
respect to Lot No. 18, considering that their house was built
therein. However, private respondent refused. This prompted
petitioners to file, on June 13, 1996, an action for reformation of
contract and damages with the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City,
Branch 36, which was docketed as Civil Case No. 17115.

On January 15, 1998, the trial court2 rendered its decision


dismissing the complaint for lack of merit and ordering herein
petitioners to pay private respondent the amount of P10,000 as
moral damages and another P10,000 as attorneys fees. The
pertinent conclusion of the trial court reads as follows:
"Aware of such fact, the plaintiff nonetheless continued to stay in
the premises of Lot 18 on the proposal that he would also buy the
same. Plaintiff however failed to buy Lot 18 and likewise defaulted
in the payment of his loan with the SSS involving Lot 19.
Consequently Lot 19 was foreclosed and sold at public auction.
Thereafter TCT No. T-29950 was cancelled and in lieu thereof
TCT No. T-86612 (Exh. 9) was issued in favor of SSS. This being
the situation obtaining, the reformation of instruments, even if
allowed, or the swapping of Lot 18 and Lot 19 as earlier proposed
by the plaintiff, is no longer feasible considering that plaintiff is no
longer the owner of Lot 19, otherwise, defendant will be losing Lot
18 without any substitute therefore (sic). Upon the other hand,
plaintiff will be unjustly enriching himself having in its favor both
Lot 19 which was earlier mortgaged by him and subsequently
foreclosed by SSS, as well as Lot 18 where his house is presently
standing.
"The logic and common sense of the situation lean heavily in favor
of the defendant. It is evident that what plaintiff had bought from
the defendant is Lot 19 covered by TCT No. 28254 which parcel of
land has been properly indicated in the instruments and not Lot 18
as claimed by the plaintiff. The contracts being clear and
unmistakable, they reflect the true intention of the parties, besides
the plaintiff failed to assail the contracts on mutual mistake, hence
the same need no longer be reformed."3
On June 22, 1998, a writ of execution was issued by the trial
court. Thus, on September 17, 1998, petitioners filed an urgent
motion to recall writ of execution, alleging that the court a quo had
no jurisdiction to try the case as it was vested in the Housing and
Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) pursuant to PD 957 (The
Subdivision and Condominium Buyers Protective Decree).
Conformably, petitioners filed a new complaint against private
respondent with the HLURB. Likewise, on June 30, 1999,
petitioner-spouses filed before the Court of Appeals a petition for
annulment of judgment, premised on the ground that the trial court
had no jurisdiction to try and decide Civil Case No. 17115.

In a decision rendered on December 29, 1999, the Court of


Appeals denied the petition for annulment of judgment, relying
mainly on the jurisprudential doctrine of estoppel as laid down in
the case of Tijam vs. Sibonghanoy.4
Their subsequent motion for reconsideration having been denied,
petitioners filed this instant petition, contending that the Court of
Appeals erred in dismissing the petition by applying the principle
of estoppel, even if the Regional Trial Court, Branch 36 of Iloilo
City had no jurisdiction to decide Civil Case No. 17115.
At the outset, it should be stressed that petitioners are seeking
from us the annulment of a trial court judgment based on lack of
jurisdiction. Because it is not an appeal, the correctness of the
judgment is not in issue here. Accordingly, there is no need to
delve into the propriety of the decision rendered by the trial court.
Petitioners claim that the recent decisions of this Court have
already abandoned the doctrine laid down in Tijam vs.
Sibonghanoy.5 We do not agree. In countless decisions, this Court
has consistently held that, while an order or decision rendered
without jurisdiction is a total nullity and may be assailed at any
stage, active participation in the proceedings in the court which
rendered the order or decision will bar such party from attacking
its jurisdiction. As we held in the leading case of Tijam vs.
Sibonghanoy:6
"A party may be estopped or barred from raising a question in
different ways and for different reasons. Thus we speak of
estoppel in pais, or estoppel by deed or by record, and of estoppel
by laches.
xxx
"It has been held that a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a
court to secure affirmative relief against his opponent and, after
obtaining or failing to obtain such relief, repudiate, or question that
same jurisdiction x x x x [T]he question whether the court had
jurisdiction either of the subject matter of the action or of the
parties was not important in such cases because the party is
barred from such conduct not because the judgment or order of
the court is valid and conclusive as an adjudication, but for the
reason that such a practice can not be tolerated obviously for
reasons of public policy."

Tijam has been reiterated in many succeeding cases. Thus,


in Orosa vs. Court of Appeals;7 Ang Ping vs. Court of
Appeals;8 Salva vs. Court of Appeals;9 National Steel Corporation
vs. Court of Appeals;10 Province of Bulacan vs. Court of
Appeals;11 PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation vs. Court of
Appeals,12 this Court affirmed the rule that a partys active
participation in all stages of the case before the trial court, which
includes invoking the courts authority to grant affirmative relief,
effectively estops such party from later challenging that same
courts jurisdiction.
In the case at bar, it was petitioners themselves who invoked the
jurisdiction of the court a quo by instituting an action for
reformation of contract against private respondents. It appears
that, in the proceedings before the trial court, petitioners
vigorously asserted their cause from start to finish. Not even once
did petitioners ever raise the issue of the courts jurisdiction during
the entire proceedings which lasted for two years. It was only after
the trial court rendered its decision and issued a writ of execution
against them in 1998 did petitioners first raise the issue of
jurisdiction and it was only because said decision was
unfavorable to them. Petitioners thus effectively waived their right
to question the courts jurisdiction over the case they themselves
filed.
Petitioners should bear the consequence of their act. They cannot
be allowed to profit from their omission to the damage and
prejudice of the private respondent. This Court frowns upon the
undesirable practice of a party submitting his case for decision
and then accepting the judgment but only if favorable, and
attacking it for lack of jurisdiction if not.13
Public policy dictates that this Court must strongly condemn any
double-dealing by parties who are disposed to trifle with the courts
by deliberately taking inconsistent positions, in utter disregard of
the elementary principles of justice and good faith.14 There is no
denying that, in this case, petitioners never raised the issue of
jurisdiction throughout the entire proceedings in the trial court.
Instead, they voluntarily and willingly submitted themselves to the
jurisdiction of said court. It is now too late in the day for them to
repudiate the jurisdiction they were invoking all along.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is hereby DENIED.

SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman), Panganiban, Sandoval-Gutierrez, and
Morales, JJ., concur.

[G.R. No. 124644. February 5, 2004]


ARNEL

ESCOBAL, petitioner,
vs.
HON.
FRANCIS
GARCHITORENA,
Presiding
Justice
of
the
Sandiganbayan, Atty. Luisabel Alfonso-Cortez,
Executive Clerk of Court IV of the Sandiganbayan,
Hon. David C. Naval, Presiding Judge of the Regional
Trial Court of Naga City, Branch 21, Luz N.
Nueca,respondents.
DECISION

CALLEJO, SR., J.:


This is a petition for certiorari with a prayer for the issuance
of a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction filed by
Arnel Escobal seeking the nullification of the remand by the
Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan of the records of Criminal
Case No. 90-3184 to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Naga City,
Branch 21.
The petition at bench arose from the following milieu:
The petitioner is a graduate of the Philippine Military
Academy, a member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and
the Philippine Constabulary, as well as the Intelligence Group of
the Philippine National Police. On March 16, 1990, the petitioner
was conducting surveillance operations on drug trafficking at
the Sa Harong Caf Bar and Restaurant located along Barlin St.,
Naga City. He somehow got involved in a shooting incident,
resulting in the death of one Rodney Rafael N. Nueca. On
February 6, 1991, an amended Information was filed with the RTC
of Naga City, Branch 21, docketed as Criminal Case No. 90-3184
charging the petitioner and a certain Natividad Bombita, Jr. alias
Jun Bombita with murder. The accusatory portion of the
amended Information reads:
That on or about March 16, 1990, in the City of Naga, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court by virtue of the
Presidential Waiver, dated June 1, 1990, with intent to kill, conspiring
and confederating together and mutually helping each other, did, then
and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and maul
one Rodney Nueca and accused 2Lt Arnel Escobal armed with a caliber .

45 service pistol shoot said Rodney Nueca thereby inflicting upon him
serious, mortal and fatal wounds which caused his death, and as a
consequence thereof, complainant LUZ N. NUECA, mother of the
deceased victim, suffered actual and compensatory damages in the
amount of THREE HUNDRED SIXTY-SEVEN THOUSAND ONE
HUNDRED SEVEN & 95/100 (P367,107.95) PESOS, Philippine
Currency, and moral and exemplary damages in the amount of ONE
HUNDRED THIRTY-FIVE THOUSAND (P135,000.00) PESOS,
Philippine Currency.[1]
On March 19, 1991, the RTC issued an Order preventively
suspending the petitioner from the service under Presidential
Decree No. 971, as amended by P.D. No. 1847. When apprised
of the said order, the General Headquarters of the PNP issued on
October 6, 1992 Special Order No. 91, preventively suspending
the petitioner from the service until the case was terminated.[2]
The petitioner was arrested by virtue of a warrant issued by
the RTC, while accused Bombita remained at large. The
petitioner posted bail and was granted temporary liberty.
When arraigned on April 9, 1991,[3] the petitioner, assisted by
counsel, pleaded not guilty to the offense charged. Thereafter, on
December 23, 1991, the petitioner filed a Motion to Quash [4] the
Information alleging that as mandated by Commonwealth Act No.
408,[5] in relation to Section 1, Presidential Decree No. 1822 and
Section 95 of R.A. No. 6975, the court martial, not the RTC, had
jurisdiction over criminal cases involving PNP members and
officers.
Pending the resolution of the motion, the petitioner on June
25, 1993 requested the Chief of the PNP for his reinstatement. He
alleged that under R.A. No. 6975, his suspension should last for
only 90 days, and, having served the same, he should now be
reinstated. On September 23, 1993,[6] the PNP Region V
Headquarters wrote Judge David C. Naval requesting information
on whether he issued an order lifting the petitioners
suspension. The RTC did not reply. Thus, on February 22, 1994,
the petitioner filed a motion in the RTC for the lifting of the order of
suspension. He alleged that he had served the 90-day preventive
suspension and pleaded for compassionate justice. The RTC
denied the motion on March 9, 1994.[7] Trial thereafter proceeded,
and the prosecution rested its case. The petitioner commenced

the presentation of his evidence. On July 20, 1994, he filed a


Motion to Dismiss[8] the case. CitingRepublic of the Philippines v.
Asuncion, et al.,[9] he argued that since he committed the crime in
the performance of his duties, the Sandiganbayan had exclusive
jurisdiction over the case.
On October 28, 1994, the RTC issued an Order [10] denying
the motion to dismiss. It, however, ordered the conduct of a
preliminary hearing to determine whether or not the crime charged
was committed by the petitioner in relation to his office as a
member of the PNP.
In the preliminary hearing, the prosecution manifested that it
was no longer presenting any evidence in connection with the
petitioners motion. It reasoned that it had already rested its case,
and that its evidence showed that the petitioner did not commit the
offense charged in connection with the performance of his duties
as a member of the Philippine Constabulary. According to the
prosecution, they were able to show the following facts: (a) the
petitioner was not wearing his uniform during the incident; (b) the
offense was committed just after midnight; (c) the petitioner was
drunk when the crime was committed; (d) the petitioner was in the
company of civilians; and, (e) the offense was committed in a
beerhouse called Sa Harong Caf Bar and Restaurant.[11]
For his part, the petitioner testified that at about 10:00 p.m.
on March 15, 1990, he was at the Sa Harong Caf Bar and
Restaurant at Barlin St., Naga City, to conduct surveillance on
alleged drug trafficking, pursuant to Mission Order No. 03-04
issued by Police Superintendent Rufo R. Pulido. The petitioner
adduced in evidence the sworn statements of Benjamin Cario
and Roberto Fajardo who corroborated his testimony that he was
on a surveillance mission on the aforestated date.[12]
On July 31, 1995, the trial court issued an Order declaring
that the petitioner committed the crime charged while not in the
performance of his official function. The trial court added that
upon the enactment of R.A. No. 7975,[13] the issue had become
moot and academic. The amendatory law transferred the
jurisdiction over the offense charged from the Sandiganbayan to
the RTC since the petitioner did not have a salary grade of 27 as
provided for in or by Section 4(a)(1), (3) thereof. The trial court
nevertheless ordered the prosecution to amend the Information

pursuant to the ruling in Republic v. Asuncion[14] and R.A. No.


7975. The amendment consisted in the inclusion therein of an
allegation that the offense charged was not committed by the
petitioner in the performance of his duties/functions, nor in relation
to his office.
The petitioner filed a motion for the reconsideration [15] of the
said order, reiterating that based on his testimony and those of
Benjamin Cario and Roberto Fajardo, the offense charged was
committed by him in relation to his official functions. He asserted
that the trial court failed to consider the exceptions to the
prohibition. He asserted that R.A. No. 7975, which was enacted
on March 30, 1995, could not be applied retroactively.[16]
The petitioner further alleged that Luz Nacario Nueca, the
mother of the victim, through counsel, categorically and
unequivocably admitted in her complaint filed with the Peoples
Law Enforcement Board (PLEB) that he was on an official mission
when the crime was committed.
On November 24, 1995, the RTC made a volte face and
issued an Order reversing and setting aside its July 31, 1995
Order. It declared that based on the petitioners evidence, he was
on official mission when the shooting occurred. It concluded that
the prosecution failed to adduce controverting evidence thereto. It
likewise considered Luz Nacario Nuecas admission in her
complaint before the PLEB that the petitioner was on official
mission when the shooting happened.
The RTC ordered the public prosecutor to file a ReAmended Information and to allege that the offense charged was
committed by the petitioner in the performance of his
duties/functions or in relation to his office; and, conformably to
R.A. No. 7975, to thereafter transmit the same, as well as the
complete records with the stenographic notes, to the
Sandiganbayan, to wit:
WHEREFORE, the Order dated July 31, 1995 is hereby SET ASIDE and
RECONSIDERED, and it is hereby declared that after preliminary
hearing, this Court has found that the offense charged in the Information
herein was committed by the accused in his relation to his function and
duty as member of the then Philippine Constabulary.

Conformably with R.A. No. 7975 and the ruling of the Supreme Court in
Republic v. Asuncion, et al., G.R. No. 180208, March 11, 1994:
(1)
The City Prosecutor is hereby ordered to file a Re-Amended
Information alleging that the offense charged was committed by the
Accused in the performance of his duties/functions or in relation to
his office, within fifteen (15) days from receipt hereof;
(2)
After the filing of the Re-Amended Information, the
complete records of this case, together with the transcripts of the
stenographic notes taken during the entire proceedings herein, are
hereby ordered transmitted immediately to the Honorable
Sandiganbayan, through its Clerk of Court, Manila, for appropriate
proceedings.[17]
On January 8, 1996, the Presiding Justice of the
Sandiganbayan ordered the Executive Clerk of Court IV, Atty.
Luisabel Alfonso-Cortez, to return the records of Criminal Case
No. 90-3184 to the court of origin, RTC of Naga City, Branch 21. It
reasoned that under P.D. No. 1606, as amended by R.A. No.
7975,[18] the RTC retained jurisdiction over the case, considering
that the petitioner had a salary grade of 23. Furthermore, the
prosecution had already rested its case and the petitioner had
commenced presenting his evidence in the RTC; following the rule
on continuity of jurisdiction, the latter court should continue with
the case and render judgment therein after trial.
Upon the remand of the records, the RTC set the case for
trial on May 3, 1996, for the petitioner to continue presenting his
evidence. Instead of adducing his evidence, the petitioner filed a
petition for certiorari, assailing the Order of the Presiding Justice
of the Sandiganbayan remanding the records of the case to the
RTC.
The threshold issue for resolution is whether or not the
Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan committed a grave abuse
of his discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in
ordering the remand of the case to the RTC.
The petitioner contends that when the amended information
was filed with the RTC on February 6, 1991, P.D. No. 1606 was
still in effect. Under Section 4(a) of the decree, the
Sandiganbayan had exclusive jurisdiction over the case against
him as he was charged with homicide with the imposable penalty

of reclusion temporal, and the crime was committed while in the


performance of his duties. He further asserts that although P.D.
No. 1606, as amended by P.D. No. 1861 and by R.A. No. 7975
provides that crimes committed by members and officers of the
PNP with a salary grade below 27 committed in relation to office
are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the proper RTC, the
amendment thus introduced by R.A. No. 7975 should not be
applied retroactively. This is so, the petitioner asserts, because
under Section 7 of R.A. No. 7975, only those cases where trial
has not begun in the Sandiganbayan upon the effectivity of the
law should be referred to the proper trial court.
The private complainant agrees with the contention of the
petitioner. In contrast, the Office of the Special Prosecutor
contends that the Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan acted in
accordance with law when he ordered the remand of the case to
the RTC. It asserts that R.A. No. 7975 should be applied
retroactively. Although the Sandiganbayan had jurisdiction over
the crime committed by the petitioner when the amended
information was filed with the RTC, by the time it resolved
petitioners motion to dismiss on July 31, 1995, R.A. No. 7975 had
already taken effect. Thus, the law should be given retroactive
effect.
The Ruling of the Court
The respondent Presiding Justice acted in accordance with
law and the rulings of this Court when he ordered the remand of
the case to the RTC, the court of origin.
The jurisdiction of the court over criminal cases is
determined by the allegations in the Information or the Complaint
and the statute in effect at the time of the commencement of the
action, unless such statute provides for a retroactive application
thereof. The jurisdictional requirements must be alleged in the
Information.[19] Such jurisdiction of the court acquired at the
inception of the case continues until the case is terminated.[20]
Under Section 4(a) of P.D. No. 1606 as amended by P.D.
No. 1861, the Sandiganbayan had exclusive jurisdiction in all
cases involving the following:

(1) Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise


known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No.
1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code;
(2) Other offenses or felonies committed by public officers and
employees in relation to their office, including those employed in
government-owned or controlled corporations, whether simple or
complexed with other crimes, where the penalty prescribed by law is
higher than prision correccional or imprisonment for six (6) years, or a
fine of P6,000.00 .[21]
However, for the Sandiganbayan to have exclusive
jurisdiction under the said law over crimes committed by public
officers in relation to their office, it is essential that the facts
showing the intimate relation between the office of the offender
and the discharge of official duties must be alleged in the
Information. It is not enough to merely allege in the Information
that the crime charged was committed by the offender in relation
to his office because that would be a conclusion of law.[22] The
amended Information filed with the RTC against the petitioner
does not contain any allegation showing the intimate relation
between his office and the discharge of his duties. Hence, the
RTC had jurisdiction over the offense charged when on November
24, 1995, it ordered the re-amendment of the Information to
include therein an allegation that the petitioner committed the
crime in relation to office. The trial court erred when it ordered the
elevation of the records to the Sandiganbayan. It bears stressing
that R.A. No. 7975 amending P.D. No. 1606 was already in effect
and under Section 2 of the law:
In cases where none of the principal accused are occupying positions
corresponding to salary grade 27 or higher, as prescribed in the said
Republic Act No. 6758, or PNP officers occupying the rank of
superintendent or higher, or their equivalent, exclusive jurisdiction
thereof shall be vested in the proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan
Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, as
the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdiction as provided in
Batas Pambansa Blg. 129.
Under the law, even if the offender committed the crime
charged in relation to his office but occupies a position
corresponding to a salary grade below 27, the proper Regional
Trial Court or Municipal Trial Court, as the case may be, shall
have exclusive jurisdiction over the case. In this case, the

petitioner was a Police Senior Inspector, with salary grade


23. He was charged with homicide punishable by reclusion
temporal. Hence, the RTC had exclusive jurisdiction over the
crime charged conformably to Sections 20 and 32 of Batas
Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended by Section 2 of R.A. No. 7691.
The petitioners contention that R.A. No. 7975 should not be
applied retroactively has no legal basis. It bears stressing that
R.A. No. 7975 is a substantive procedural law which may be
applied retroactively.[23] IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the
petition is DISMISSED. No pronouncement as to costs. SO
ORDERED.
Puno,
(Chairman),
Quisumbing,
AustriaMartinez, and Tinga, JJ., concur.
G.R. No. 155001

January 21, 2004

DEMOSTHENES P. AGAN, JR., JOSEPH B. CATAHAN, JOSE


MARI B. REUNILLA, MANUEL ANTONIO B. BOE, MAMERTO
S. CLARA, REUEL E. DIMALANTA, MORY V. DOMALAON,
CONRADO G. DIMAANO, LOLITA R. HIZON, REMEDIOS P.
ADOLFO, BIENVENIDO C. HILARIO, MIASCOR WORKERS
UNION-NATIONAL LABOR UNION (MWU-NLU), and
PHILIPPINE AIRLINES EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION
(PALEA),petitioners,
vs.
PHILIPPINE INTERNATIONAL AIR TERMINALS CO., INC.,
MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY,
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND
COMMUNICATIONS and SECRETARY LEANDRO M.
MENDOZA, in his capacity as Head of the Department of
Transportation and Communications, respondents,

CAILAO, ERWIN CALAR, MARIFEL CONSTANTINO, JANETTE


CORDERO, ARNOLD FELICITAS, MARISSA GAYAGOY, ALEX
GENERILLO, ELIZABETH GRAY, ZOILO HERICO,
JACQUELINE IGNACIO, THELMA INFANTE, JOEL JUMAO-AS,
MARIETTA LINCHOCO, ROLLY LORICO, FRANCIS AUGUSTO
MACATOL, MICHAEL MALIGAT, DENNIS MANALO, RAUL
MANGALIMAN, JOEL MANLANGIT, CHARLIE MENDOZA,
HAZNAH MENDOZA, NICHOLS MORALES, ALLEN OLAO,
CESAR ORTAL, MICHAEL ORTEGA, WAYNE PLAZA,
JOSELITO REYES, ROLANDO REYES, AILEEN SAPINA,
RAMIL TAMAYO, PHILLIPS TAN, ANDREW UY, WILLIAM
VELASCO, EMILIO VELEZ, NOEMI YUPANO, MARY JANE
ONG, RICHARD RAMIREZ, CHERYLE MARIE ALFONSO,
LYNDON BAUTISTA, MANUEL CABOCAN AND NEDY
LAZO, Respondents-in-Intervention,
NAGKAISANG MARALITA NG TAONG ASSOCIATION,
INC., Respondents-in-Intervention,
x-------------------------x
G.R. No. 155547 January 21, 2004

MIASCOR GROUNDHANDLING CORPORATION, DNATAWINGS AVIATION SYSTEMS CORPORATION, MACROASIAEUREST SERVICES, INC., MACROASIA-MENZIES AIRPORT
SERVICES CORPORATION, MIASCOR CATERING SERVICES
CORPORATION, MIASCOR AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE
CORPORATION, and MIASCOR LOGISTICS
CORPORATION, Petitioners-in-Intervention,

SALACNIB F. BATERINA, CLAVEL A. MARTINEZ and


CONSTANTINO G. JARAULA, petitioners,
vs.
PHILIPPINE INTERNATIONAL AIR TERMINALS CO., INC.,
MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY,
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND
COMMUNICATIONS, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS AND
HIGHWAYS, SECRETARY LEANDRO M. MENDOZA, in his
capacity as Head of the Department of Transportation and
Communications, and SECRETARY SIMEON A.
DATUMANONG, in his capacity as Head of the Department of
Public Works and Highways, respondents, JACINTO V.
PARAS, RAFAEL P. NANTES, EDUARDO C. ZIALCITA, WILLY
BUYSON VILLARAMA, PROSPERO C. NOGRALES,
PROSPERO A. PICHAY, JR., HARLIN CAST ABAYON, and
BENASING O. MACARANBON, Respondents-Intervenors,

FLORESTE ALCONIS, GINA ALNAS, REY AMPOLOQUIO,


ROSEMARIE ANG, EUGENE ARADA, NENETTE BARREIRO,
NOEL BARTOLOME, ALDRIN BASTADOR, ROLETTE DIVINE
BERNARDO, MINETTE BRAVO, KAREN BRECILLA, NIDA

FLORESTE ALCONIS, GINA ALNAS, REY AMPOLOQUIO,


ROSEMARIE ANG, EUGENE ARADA, NENETTE BARREIRO,
NOEL BARTOLOME, ALDRIN BASTADOR, ROLETTE DIVINE
BERNARDO, MINETTE BRAVO, KAREN BRECILLA, NIDA

CAILAO, ERWIN CALAR, MARIFEL CONSTANTINO, JANETTE


CORDERO, ARNOLD FELICITAS, MARISSA GAYAGOY, ALEX
GENERILLO, ELIZABETH GRAY, ZOILO HERICO,
JACQUELINE IGNACIO, THELMA INFANTE, JOEL JUMAO-AS,
MARIETTA LINCHOCO, ROLLY LORICO, FRANCIS AUGUSTO
MACATOL, MICHAEL MALIGAT, DENNIS MANALO, RAUL
MANGALIMAN, JOEL MANLANGIT, CHARLIE MENDOZA,
HAZNAH MENDOZA, NICHOLS MORALES, ALLEN OLAO,
CESAR ORTAL, MICHAEL ORTEGA, WAYNE PLAZA,
JOSELITO REYES, ROLANDO REYES, AILEEN SAPINA,
RAMIL TAMAYO, PHILLIPS TAN, ANDREW UY, WILLIAM
VELASCO, EMILIO VELEZ, NOEMI YUPANO, MARY JANE
ONG, RICHARD RAMIREZ, CHERYLE MARIE ALFONSO,
LYNDON BAUTISTA, MANUEL CABOCAN AND NEDY
LAZO, Respondents-in-Intervention,

JACQUELINE IGNACIO, THELMA INFANTE, JOEL JUMAO-AS,


MARIETTA LINCHOCO, ROLLY LORICO, FRANCIS AUGUSTO
MACATOL, MICHAEL MALIGAT, DENNIS MANALO, RAUL
MANGALIMAN, JOEL MANLANGIT, CHARLIE MENDOZA,
HAZNAH MENDOZA, NICHOLS MORALES, ALLEN OLAO,
CESAR ORTAL, MICHAEL ORTEGA, WAYNE PLAZA,
JOSELITO REYES, ROLANDO REYES, AILEEN SAPINA,
RAMIL TAMAYO, PHILLIPS TAN, ANDREW UY, WILLIAM
VELASCO, EMILIO VELEZ, NOEMI YUPANO, MARY JANE
ONG, RICHARD RAMIREZ, CHERYLE MARIE ALFONSO,
LYNDON BAUTISTA, MANUEL CABOCAN AND NEDY
LAZO, Respondents-in-Intervention,
NAGKAISANG MARALITA NG TAONG ASSOCIATION,
INC., Respondents-in-Intervention.

NAGKAISANG MARALITA NG TAONG ASSOCIATION,


INC., Respondents-in-Intervention,
x-------------------------x
G.R. No. 155661 January 21, 2004
CEFERINO C. LOPEZ, RAMON M. SALES, ALFREDO B.
VALENCIA, MA. TERESA V. GAERLAN, LEONARDO DE LA
ROSA, DINA C. DE LEON, VIRGIE CATAMIN, RONALD
SCHLOBOM, ANGELITO SANTOS, MA. LUISA M. PALCON
and SAMAHANG MANGGAGAWA SA PALIPARAN NG
PILIPINAS (SMPP), petitioners,
vs.
PHILIPPINE INTERNATIONAL AIR TERMINALS CO., INC.,
MANILA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AUTHORITY,
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND
COMMUNICATIONS, SECRETARY LEANDRO M. MENDOZA, in
his capacity as Head of the Department of Transportation and
Communications, respondents,
FLORESTE ALCONIS, GINA ALNAS, REY AMPOLOQUIO,
ROSEMARIE ANG, EUGENE ARADA, NENETTE BARREIRO,
NOEL BARTOLOME, ALDRIN BASTADOR, ROLETTE DIVINE
BERNARDO, MINETTE BRAVO, KAREN BRECILLA, NIDA
CAILAO, ERWIN CALAR, MARIFEL CONSTANTINO, JANETTE
CORDERO, ARNOLD FELICITAS, MARISSA GAYAGOY, ALEX
GENERILLO, ELIZABETH GRAY, ZOILO HERICO,

RESOLUTION
PUNO, J.:
Before this Court are the separate Motions for Reconsideration
filed by respondent Philippine International Air Terminals Co., Inc.
(PIATCO), respondents-intervenors Jacinto V. Paras, Rafael P.
Nantes, Eduardo C. Zialcita, Willie Buyson Villarama, Prospero C.
Nograles, Prospero A. Pichay, Jr., Harlin Cast Abayon and
Benasing O. Macaranbon, all members of the House of
Representatives (Respondent Congressmen),1 respondentsintervenors who are employees of PIATCO and other workers of
the Ninoy Aquino International Airport International Passenger
Terminal III (NAIA IPT III) (PIATCO Employees)2 and respondentsintervenors Nagkaisang Maralita ng Taong Association, Inc.,
(NMTAI)3 of the Decision of this Court dated May 5, 2003
declaring the contracts for the NAIA IPT III project null and void.
Briefly, the proceedings. On October 5, 1994, Asias Emerging
Dragon Corp. (AEDC) submitted an unsolicited proposal to the
Philippine Government through the Department of Transportation
and Communication (DOTC) and Manila International Airport
Authority (MIAA) for the construction and development of the
NAIA IPT III under a build-operate-and-transfer arrangement
pursuant to R.A. No. 6957, as amended by R.A. No. 7718 (BOT
Law).4In accordance with the BOT Law and its Implementing
Rules and Regulations (Implementing Rules), the DOTC/MIAA
invited the public for submission of competitive and comparative

proposals to the unsolicited proposal of AEDC. On September 20,


1996 a consortium composed of the Peoples Air Cargo and
Warehousing Co., Inc. (Paircargo), Phil. Air and Grounds
Services, Inc. (PAGS) and Security Bank Corp. (Security Bank)
(collectively, Paircargo Consortium), submitted their competitive
proposal to the Prequalification Bids and Awards Committee
(PBAC).
After finding that the Paircargo Consortium submitted a bid
superior to the unsolicited proposal of AEDC and after failure by
AEDC to match the said bid, the DOTC issued the notice of award
for the NAIA IPT III project to the Paircargo Consortium, which
later organized into herein respondent PIATCO. Hence, on July
12, 1997, the Government, through then DOTC Secretary Arturo
T. Enrile, and PIATCO, through its President, Henry T. Go, signed
the "Concession Agreement for the Build-Operate-and-Transfer
Arrangement of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Passenger
Terminal III" (1997 Concession Agreement). On November 26,
1998, the 1997 Concession Agreement was superseded by the
Amended and Restated Concession Agreement (ARCA)
containing certain revisions and modifications from the original
contract. A series of supplemental agreements was also entered
into by the Government and PIATCO. The First Supplement was
signed on August 27, 1999, the Second Supplement on
September 4, 2000, and the Third Supplement on June 22, 2001
(collectively, Supplements) (the 1997 Concession Agreement,
ARCA and the Supplements collectively referred to as the
PIATCO Contracts).
On September 17, 2002, various petitions were filed before
this Court to annul the 1997 Concession Agreement, the
ARCA and the Supplements and to prohibit the public
respondents DOTC and MIAA from implementing them.
In a decision dated May 5, 2003, this Court granted the said
petitions and declared the 1997 Concession Agreement, the
ARCA and the Supplements null and void.
Respondent PIATCO, respondent-Congressmen and
respondents-intervenors now seek the reversal of the May 5, 2003
decision and pray that the petitions be dismissed. In the
alternative, PIATCO prays that the Court should not strike down
the entire 1997 Concession Agreement, the ARCA and its
supplements in light of their separability clause. Respondent-

Congressmen and NMTAI also pray that in the alternative, the


cases at bar should be referred to arbitration pursuant to the
provisions of the ARCA. PIATCO-Employees pray that the
petitions be dismissed and remanded to the trial courts for trial on
the merits or in the alternative that the 1997 Concession
Agreement, the ARCA and the Supplements be declared valid and
binding.
I
Procedural Matters
a. Lack of Jurisdiction
Private respondents and respondents-intervenors reiterate a
number of procedural issues which they insist deprived this Court
of jurisdiction to hear and decide the instant cases on its merits.
They continue to claim that the cases at bar raise factual
questions which this Court is ill-equipped to resolve, hence, they
must be remanded to the trial court for reception of evidence.
Further, they allege that although designated as petitions for
certiorari and prohibition, the cases at bar are actually actions for
nullity of contracts over which the trial courts have exclusive
jurisdiction. Even assuming that the cases at bar are special civil
actions for certiorari and prohibition, they contend that the
principle of hierarchy of courts precludes this Court from taking
primary jurisdiction over them.
We are not persuaded.
There is a question of fact when doubt or difference arises as to
the truth or falsity of the facts alleged.5 Even a cursory reading of
the cases at bar will show that the Court decided them by
interpreting and applying the Constitution, the BOT Law, its
Implementing Rules and other relevant legal principles on the
basis of clearly undisputed facts. All the operative facts were
settled, hence, there is no need for a trial type determination of
their truth or falsity by a trial court.
We reject the unyielding insistence of PIATCO Employees that the
following factual issues are critical and beyond the capability of
this Court to resolve, viz: (a) whether the National Economic
Development Authority- Investment Coordinating Committee
(NEDA-ICC) approved the Supplements; (b) whether the First
Supplement created ten (10) new financial obligations on the part

of the government; and (c) whether the 1997 Concession


Agreement departed from the draft Concession Agreement
contained in the Bid Documents.6
The factual issue of whether the NEDA-ICC approved the
Supplements is hardly relevant. It is clear in our Decision that the
PIATCO contracts were invalidated on other and more substantial
grounds. It did not rely on the presence or absence of NEDA-ICC
approval of the Supplements. On the other hand, the last two
issues do not involve disputed facts. Rather, they involve
contractual provisions which are clear and categorical and need
only to be interpreted. The interpretation of contracts and the
determination of whether their provisions violate our laws or
contravene any public policy is a legal issue which this Court
may properly pass upon.
Respondents corollary contention that this Court violated
the hierarchy of courts when it entertained the cases at bar must
also fail. The rule on hierarchy of courts in cases falling within the
concurrent jurisdiction of the trial courts and appellate courts
generally applies to cases involving warring factual allegations.
For this reason, litigants are required to repair to the trial courts at
the first instance to determine the truth or falsity of these
contending allegations on the basis of the evidence of the parties.
Cases which depend on disputed facts for decision cannot be
brought immediately before appellate courts as they are not triers
of facts.
It goes without saying that when cases brought before the
appellate courts do not involve factual but legal questions, a
strict application of the rule of hierarchy of courts is not necessary.
As the cases at bar merely concern the construction of the
Constitution, the interpretation of the BOT Law and its
Implementing Rules and Regulations on undisputed contractual
provisions and government actions, and as the cases concern
public interest, this Court resolved to take primary jurisdiction over
them. This choice of action follows the consistent stance of this
Court to settle any controversy with a high public interest
component in a single proceeding and to leave no root or branch
that could bear the seeds of future litigation. The suggested
remand of the cases at bar to the trial court will stray away from
this policy.7
b. Legal Standing

Respondent PIATCO stands pat with its argument that petitioners


lack legal personality to file the cases at bar as they are not real
parties in interest who are bound principally or subsidiarily to the
PIATCO Contracts. Further, respondent PIATCO contends that
petitioners failed to show any legally demandable or enforceable
right to justify their standing to file the cases at bar.
These arguments are not difficult to deflect. The determination of
whether a person may institute an action or become a party to a
suit brings to fore the concepts of real party in interest, capacity to
sue and standing to sue. To the legally discerning, these three
concepts are different although commonly directed towards
ensuring that only certain parties can maintain an action.8 As
defined in the Rules of Court, a real party in interest is the party
who stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit
or the party entitled to the avails of the suit.9Capacity to sue deals
with a situation where a person who may have a cause of action is
disqualified from bringing a suit under applicable law or is
incompetent to bring a suit or is under some legal disability that
would prevent him from maintaining an action unless represented
by a guardian ad litem. Legal standing is relevant in the realm of
public law. In certain instances, courts have allowed private
parties to institute actions challenging the validity of governmental
action for violation of private rights or constitutional principles.10 In
these cases, courts apply the doctrine of legal standing by
determining whether the party has a direct and personal interest
in the controversy and whether such party has sustained or
is in imminent danger of sustaining an injury as a result of
the act complained of, a standard which is distinct from the
concept of real party in interest.11Measured by this yardstick, the
application of the doctrine on legal standing necessarily involves a
preliminary consideration of the merits of the case and is not
purely a procedural issue.12
Considering the nature of the controversy and the issues raised in
the cases at bar, this Court affirms its ruling that the petitioners
have the requisite legal standing. The petitioners in G.R. Nos.
155001 and 155661 are employees of service providers operating
at the existing international airports and employees of MIAA while
petitioners-intervenors are service providers with existing
contracts with MIAA and they will all sustain direct injury upon the
implementation of the PIATCO Contracts. The 1997 Concession
Agreement and the ARCA both provide that upon the
commencement of operations at the NAIA IPT III, NAIA Passenger

Terminals I and II will cease to be used as international passenger


terminals.13 Further, the ARCA provides:
(d) For the purpose of an orderly transition, MIAA shall
not renew any expired concession agreement relative to
any service or operation currently being undertaken at
the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Passenger
Terminal I, or extend any concession agreement which
may expire subsequent hereto, except to the extent that
the continuation of the existing services and operations
shall lapse on or before the In-Service Date.14
Beyond iota of doubt, the implementation of the PIATCO
Contracts, which the petitioners and petitioners-intervenors
denounce as unconstitutional and illegal, would deprive them of
their sources of livelihood. Under settled jurisprudence, one's
employment, profession, trade, or calling is a property right and is
protected from wrongful interference.15 It is also self evident that
the petitioning service providers stand in imminent danger of
losing legitimate business investments in the event the PIATCO
Contracts are upheld.
Over and above all these, constitutional and other legal issues
with far-reaching economic and social implications are embedded
in the cases at bar, hence, this Court liberally granted legal
standing to the petitioning members of the House of
Representatives. First, at stake is the build-operate-andtransfer
contract of the countrys premier international airport with a
projected capacity of 10 million passengers a year. Second, the
huge amount of investment to complete the project is estimated to
be P13,000,000,000.00. Third, the primary issues posed in the
cases at bar demand a discussion and interpretation of the
Constitution, the BOT Law and its implementing rules which have
not been passed upon by this Court in previous cases. They can
chart the future inflow of investment under the BOT Law.
Before writing finis to the issue of legal standing, the Court notes
the bid of new parties to participate in the cases at bar as
respondents-intervenors, namely, (1) the PIATCO Employees and
(2) NMTAI (collectively, the New Respondents-Intervenors). After
the Courts Decision, the New Respondents-Intervenors filed
separate Motions for Reconsideration-In-Intervention alleging
prejudice and direct injury. PIATCO employees claim that "they
have a direct and personal interest [in the controversy]... since

they stand to lose their jobs should the governments contract with
PIATCO be declared null and void."16 NMTAI, on the other hand,
represents itself as a corporation composed of responsible taxpaying Filipino citizens with the objective of "protecting and
sustaining the rights of its members to civil liberties, decent
livelihood, opportunities for social advancement, and to a good,
conscientious and honest government."17
The Rules of Court govern the time of filing a Motion to Intervene.
Section 2, Rule 19 provides that a Motion to Intervene should be
filed "before rendition of judgment...." The New RespondentsIntervenors filed their separate motions after a decision has been
promulgated in the present cases. They have not offered any
worthy explanation to justify their late intervention. Consequently,
their Motions for Reconsideration-In-Intervention are denied for
the rules cannot be relaxed to await litigants who sleep on their
rights. In any event, a sideglance at these late motions will show
that they hoist no novel arguments.
c. Failure to Implead an Indispensable Party
PIATCO next contends that petitioners should have impleaded the
Republic of the Philippines as an indispensable party. It alleges
that petitioners sued the DOTC, MIAA and the DPWH in their own
capacities or as implementors of the PIATCO Contracts and not
as a contract party or as representatives of the Government of the
Republic of the Philippines. It then leapfrogs to the conclusion that
the "absence of an indispensable party renders ineffectual all the
proceedings subsequent to the filing of the complaint including the
judgment."18
PIATCOs allegations are inaccurate. The petitions clearly bear
out that public respondents DOTC and MIAA were impleaded
as parties to the PIATCO Contracts and not merely as their
implementors. The separate petitions filed by the MIAA
employees19 and members of the House of
Representatives20 alleged that "public respondents are impleaded
herein because they either executed the PIATCO Contracts or
are undertaking acts which are related to the PIATCO Contracts.
They are interested and indispensable parties to this
Petition."21 Thus, public respondents DOTC and MIAA were
impleaded as parties to the case for having executed the
contracts.

More importantly, it is also too late in the day for PIATCO to raise
this issue. If PIATCO seriously views the non-inclusion of the
Republic of the Philippines as an indispensable party as fatal to
the petitions at bar, it should have raised the issue at the onset of
the proceedings as a ground to dismiss. PIATCO cannot litigate
issues on a piecemeal basis, otherwise, litigations shall be like a
shore that knows no end. In any event, the Solicitor General, the
legal counsel of the Republic, appeared in the cases at bar in
representation of the interest of the government.
II
Pre-qualification of PIATCO
The Implementing Rules provide for the unyielding standards the
PBAC should apply to determine the financial capability of a
bidder for pre-qualification purposes: (i) proof of the ability of the
project proponent and/or the consortium to provide a minimum
amount of equity to the project and (ii) a letter testimonial from
reputable banks attesting that the project proponent and/or
members of the consortium are banking with them, that they
are in good financial standing, and that they have adequate
resources.22 The evident intent of these standards is to protect
the integrity and insure the viability of the project by seeing to it
that the proponent has the financial capability to carry it out. As a
further measure to achieve this intent, it maintains a certain
debt-to-equity ratio for the project.
At the pre-qualification stage, it is most important for a bidder to
show that it has the financial capacity to undertake the project by
proving that it can fulfill the requirement on minimum amount of
equity. For this purpose, the Bid Documents require in no
uncertain terms:
The minimum amount of equity to which the proponents
financial capability will be based shall be thirty percent
(30%) of the project cost instead of the twenty
percent (20%) specified in Section 3.6.4 of the Bid
Documents. This is to correlate with the required debtto-equity ratio of 70:30 in Section 2.01a of the draft
concession agreement. The debt portion of the project
financing should not exceed 70% of the actual project
cost.23
In relation thereto, section 2.01 (a) of the ARCA provides:

Section 2.01 Project Scope.


The scope of the project shall include:
(a) Financing the project at an actual Project cost of not
less than Three Hundred Fifty Million United States
Dollars (US$350,000,000.00) while maintaining a debtto-equity ratio of 70:30, provided that if the actual Project
costs should exceed the aforesaid amount,
Concessionaire shall ensure that the debt-to-equity ratio
is maintained;24
Under the debt-to-equity restriction, a bidder may only seek
financing of the NAIA IPT III Project up to 70% of the project cost.
Thirty percent (30%) of the cost must come in the form of equity or
investment by the bidder itself. It cannot be overly emphasized
that the rules require a minimum amount of equity to ensure that a
bidder is not merely an operator or implementor of the project but
an investor with a substantial interest in its success. The
minimum equity requirement also guarantees the Philippine
government and the general public, who are the ultimate
beneficiaries of the project, that a bidder will not be indifferent to
the completion of the project. The discontinuance of the project
will irreparably damage public interest more than private interest.
In the cases at bar, after applying the investment ceilings provided
under the General Banking Act and considering the maximum
amounts that each member of the consortium may validly invest in
the project, it is daylight clear that the Paircargo Consortium, at
the time of pre-qualification, had a net worth equivalent to
only6.08% of the total estimated project cost.25 By any
reckoning, a showing by a bidder that at the time of prequalification its maximum funds available for investment amount
to only 6.08% of the project cost is insufficient to satisfy the
requirement prescribed by the Implementing Rules that the project
proponent must have the ability to provide at least 30% of the total
estimated project cost. In peso and centavo terms, at the time of
pre-qualification, the Paircargo Consortium had maximum funds
available for investment to the NAIA IPT III Project only in the
amount of P558,384,871.55, when it had to show that it had the
ability to provide at least P2,755,095,000.00. The huge disparity
cannot be dismissed as of de minimis importance considering the
high public interest at stake in the project.

PIATCO nimbly tries to sidestep its failure by alleging that it


submitted not only audited financial statements but also
testimonial letters from reputable banks attesting to the good
financial standing of the Paircargo Consortium. It contends that in
adjudging whether the Paircargo Consortium is a pre-qualified
bidder, the PBAC should have considered not only its financial
statements but other factors showing its financial capability.

allied undertaking, Paircargo Consortium, at the time of prequalification, failed to show that it had the ability to provide 30% of
the project cost and necessarily, its financial capability for the
project cannot pass muster.

Anent this argument, the guidelines provided in the Bid


Documents are instructive:

Again, we brightline the principle that in public bidding, bids are


submitted in accord with the prescribed terms, conditions and
parameters laid down by government and pursuant to the
requirements of the project bidded upon. In light of these
parameters, bidders formulate competing proposals which are
evaluated to determine the bid most favorable to the government.
Once the contract based on the bid most favorable to the
government is awarded, all that is left to be done by the parties is
to execute the necessary agreements and implement them. There
can be no substantial or material change to the parameters of the
project, including the essential terms and conditions of the
contract bidded upon, after the contract award. If there were
changes and the contracts end up unfavorable to government, the
public bidding becomes a mockery and the modified contracts
must be struck down.

3.3.4 FINANCING AND FINANCIAL


PREQUALIFICATIONS REQUIREMENTS
Minimum Amount of Equity
Each member of the proponent entity is to
provide evidence of networth in cash and assets
representing the proportionate share in the proponent
entity. Audited financial statements for the past five (5)
years as a company for each member are to be
provided.
Project Loan Financing
Testimonial letters from reputable banks attesting that
each of the members of the ownership entity are banking
with them, in good financial standing and having
adequate resources are to be provided.26
It is beyond refutation that Paircargo Consortium failed to prove
its ability to provide the amount of at least P2,755,095,000.00,
or 30% of the estimated project cost. Its submission of
testimonial letters attesting to its good financial standing will not
cure this failure. At best, the said letters merely establish its credit
worthiness or its ability to obtain loans to finance the project. They
do not, however, prove compliance with the aforesaid requirement
of minimum amount of equity in relation to the prescribed debt-toequity ratio. This equity cannot be satisfied through possible
loans.
In sum, we again hold that given the glaring gap between the net
worth of Paircargo and PAGS combined with the amount of
maximum funds that Security Bank may invest by equity in a non-

III
Concession Agreement

Respondents insist that there were no substantial or material


amendments in the 1997 Concession Agreement as to the
technical aspects of the project, i.e., engineering design, technical
soundness, operational and maintenance methods and
procedures of the project or the technical proposal of PIATCO.
Further, they maintain that there was no modification of the
financial features of the project, i.e., minimum project cost, debtto-equity ratio, the operations and maintenance budget, the
schedule and amount of annual guaranteed payments, or
the financial proposal of PIATCO. A discussion of some of these
changes to determine whether they altered the terms and
conditions upon which the bids were made is again in order.
a. Modification on Fees and Charges to be collected by
PIATCO
PIATCO clings to the contention that the removal of the
groundhandling fees, airline office rentals and porterage fees from
the category of fees subject to MIAA regulation in the 1997
Concession Agreement does not constitute a substantial

amendment as these fees are not really public utility fees. In other
words, PIATCO justifies the re-classification under the 1997
Concession Agreement on the ground that these fees are nonpublic utility revenues.
We disagree. The removal of groundhandling fees, airline office
rentals and porterage fees from the category of "Public Utility
Revenues" under the draft Concession Agreement and its reclassification to "Non-Public Utility Revenues" under the 1997
Concession Agreement is significant and has far reaching
consequence. The 1997 Concession Agreement provides that
with respect to Non-Public Utility Revenues, which include
groundhandling fees, airline office rentals and porterage
fees,27 "[PIATCO] may make any adjustments it deems
appropriatewithout need for the consent of GRP or any
government agency."28 In contrast, the draft Concession
Agreement specifies these fees as part of Public Utility Revenues
and can be adjusted "only once every two years and in
accordance with the Parametric Formula" and "the adjustments
shall be made effective only after the written express approval
of the MIAA."29 The Bid Documents themselves clearly provide:
4.2.3 Mechanism for Adjustment of Fees and Charges
4.2.3.1 Periodic Adjustment in Fees and
Charges
Adjustments in the fees and charges
enumerated hereunder, whether or not falling
within the purview of public utility revenues,
shall be allowed only once every two years in
accordance with the parametric formula
attached hereto as Annex 4.2f. Provided that
the adjustments shall be made effective only
after the written express approval of MIAA.
Provided, further, that MIAAs approval, shall be
contingent only on conformity of the
adjustments to the said parametric formula.
The fees and charges to be regulated in the above
manner shall consist of the following:
....

c) groundhandling fees;
d) rentals on airline offices;
....
(f) porterage fees;
. . . .30
The plain purpose in re-classifying groundhandling fees, airline
office rentals and porterage fees as non-public utility fees is to
remove them from regulation by the MIAA. In excluding these
fees from government regulation, the danger to public interest
cannot be downplayed.
We are not impressed by the effort of PIATCO to depress this
prejudice to public interest by its contention that in the 1997
Concession Agreement governing Non-Public Utility Revenues, it
is provided that "[PIATCO] shall at all times be judicious in fixing
fees and charges constituting Non-Public Utility Revenues in order
to ensure that End Users are not unreasonably deprived of
services."31 PIATCO then peddles the proposition that the said
provision confers upon MIAA "full regulatory powers to ensure
that PIATCO is charging non-public utility revenues
atjudicious rates."32 To the trained eye, the argument will not fly for
it is obviously non sequitur. Fairly read, it is PIATCO that wields
the power to determine the judiciousness of the said fees and
charges. In the draft Concession Agreement the power was
expressly lodged with the MIAA and any adjustment can only be
done once every two years. The changes are not insignificant
specks as interpreted by PIATCO.
PIATCO further argues that there is no substantial change in the
1997 Concession Agreement with respect to fees and charges
PIATCO is allowed to impose which are not covered by
Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 199333 as the "relevant
provision of the 1997 Concession Agreement is practically
identical with the draft Concession Agreement."34
We are not persuaded. Under the draft Concession Agreement,
PIATCO may impose fees and charges other than those fees and
charges previously imposed or collected at the Ninoy Aquino
International Airport Passenger Terminal I, subject to the written

approval of MIAA.35 Further, the draft Concession Agreement


provides that MIAA reserves the right to regulate these new
fees and charges if in its judgment the users of the airport shall be
deprived of a free option for the services they cover.36 In contrast,
under the 1997 Concession Agreement,the MIAA merely
retained the right to approve any imposition of new fees and
charges which were not previously collected at the Ninoy Aquino
International Airport Passenger Terminal I. The agreement did
not contain an equivalent provision allowing MIAA to reserve
the right to regulate the adjustments of these new fees and
charges.37 PIATCO justifies the amendment by arguing that MIAA
can establish terms before approval of new fees and charges,
inclusive of the mode for their adjustment.
PIATCOs stance is again a strained one. There would have been
no need for an amendment if there were no change in the power
to regulate on the part of MIAA. The deletion of MIAAs reservation
of its right to regulate the price adjustments of new fees and
charges can have no other purpose but to dilute the extent of
MIAAs regulation in the collection of these fees. Again, the
amendment diminished the authority of MIAA to protect the public
interest in case of abuse by PIATCO.
b. Assumption by the Government of the liabilities of PIATCO
in the event of the latters default
PIATCO posits the thesis that the new provisions in the 1997
Concession Agreement in case of default by PIATCO on its loans
were merely meant to prescribe and limit the rights of PIATCOs
creditors with regard to the NAIA Terminal III. PIATCO alleges that
Section 4.04 of the 1997 Concession Agreement simply provides
that PIATCOs creditors have no right to foreclose the NAIA
Terminal III.
We cannot concur. The pertinent provisions of the 1997
Concession Agreement state:
Section 4.04 Assignment.
....
(b) In the event Concessionaire should default in the
payment of an Attendant Liability, and the default has
resulted in the acceleration of the payment due date of

the Attendant Liability prior to its stated date of maturity,


the Unpaid Creditors and Concessionaire shall
immediately inform GRP in writing of such default. GRP
shall, within one hundred eighty (180) Days from receipt
of the joint written notice of the Unpaid Creditors and
Concessionaire, either (i) take over the Development
Facility and assume the Attendant Liabilities, or (ii)
allow the Unpaid Creditors, if qualified, to be substituted
as concessionaire and operator of the Development
Facility in accordance with the terms and conditions
hereof, or designate a qualified operator acceptable to
GRP to operate the Development Facility, likewise under
the terms and conditions of this Agreement; Provided
that if at the end of the 180-day period GRP shall not
have served the Unpaid Creditors and Concessionaire
written notice of its choice, GRP shall be deemed to have
elected to take over the Development Facility with the
concomitant assumption of Attendant Liabilities.
(c) If GRP should, by written notice, allow the Unpaid
Creditors to be substituted as concessionaire, the latter
shall form and organize a concession company qualified
to take over the operation of the Development Facility. If
the concession company should elect to designate an
operator for the Development Facility, the concession
company shall in good faith identify and designate a
qualified operator acceptable to GRP within one hundred
eighty (180) days from receipt of GRPs written notice. If
the concession company, acting in good faith and with
due diligence, is unable to designate a qualified operator
within the aforesaid period, then GRP shall at the end of
the 180-day period take over the Development
Facility and assume Attendant Liabilities.
A plain reading of the above provision shows that it spells out in
limpid language the obligation of government in case of default by
PIATCO on its loans. There can be no blinking from the fact that in
case of PIATCOs default, the government will assume PIATCOs
Attendant Liabilities as defined in the 1997 Concession
Agreement.38 This obligation is not found in the draft Concession
Agreement and the change runs roughshod to the spirit and policy
of the BOT Law which was crafted precisely to prevent
government from incurring financial risk.

In any event, PIATCO pleads that the entire agreement should


not be struck down as the 1997 Concession Agreement contains a
separability clause.
The plea is bereft of merit. The contracts at bar which made a
mockery of the bidding process cannot be upheld and must be
annulled in their entirety for violating law and public policy. As
demonstrated, the contracts were substantially amended after
their award to the successful bidder on terms more beneficial to
PIATCO and prejudicial to public interest. If this flawed process
would be allowed, public bidding will cease to be competitive and
worse, government would not be favored with the best bid.
Bidders will no longer bid on the basis of the prescribed terms and
conditions in the bid documents but will formulate their bid in
anticipation of the execution of a future contract containing new
and better terms and conditions that were not previously available
at the time of the bidding. Such a public bidding will not inure to
the public good. The resulting contracts cannot be given half a life
but must be struck down as totally lawless.
IV.
Direct Government Guarantee
The respondents further contend that the PIATCO Contracts do
not contain direct government guarantee provisions. They assert
that section 4.04 of the ARCA, which superseded sections 4.04(b)
and (c), Article IV of the 1997 Concession Agreement, is but a
"clarification and explanation"39 of the securities allowed in the bid
documents. They allege that these provisions merely provide for
"compensation to PIATCO"40 in case of a government buy-out or
takeover of NAIA IPT III. The respondents, particularly respondent
PIATCO, also maintain that the guarantee contained in the
contracts, if any, is an indirect guarantee allowed under the BOT
Law, as amended.41
We do not agree. Section 4.04(c), Article IV42 of the ARCA should
be read in conjunction with section 1.06, Article I,43 in the same
manner that sections 4.04(b) and (c), Article IV of the 1997
Concession Agreement should be related to Article 1.06 of the
same contract. Section 1.06, Article I of the ARCA and its
counterpart provision in the 1997 Concession Agreement define in
no uncertain terms the meaning of "attendant liabilities." They tell
us of the amounts that the Government has to pay in the event
respondent PIATCO defaults in its loan payments to its Senior

Lenders and no qualified transferee or nominee is chosen by the


Senior Lenders or is willing to take over from respondent PIATCO.
A reasonable reading of all these relevant provisions would reveal
that the ARCA made the Government liable to pay "all
amounts ... from time to time owed or which may become
owing by Concessionaire [PIATCO] to Senior Lenders or any
other persons or entities who have provided, loaned, or
advanced funds or provided financial facilities to
Concessionaire [PIATCO] for the Project [NAIA Terminal
3]."44 These amounts include "without limitation, all principal,
interest, associated fees, charges, reimbursements, and
other related expenses... whether payable at maturity, by
acceleration or otherwise."45 They further include amounts owed
by respondent PIATCO to its "professional consultants and
advisers, suppliers, contractors and sub-contractors" as well as
"fees, charges and expenses of any agents or trustees" of the
Senior Lenders or any other persons or entities who have
provided loans or financial facilities to respondent PIATCO in
relation to NAIA IPT III.46 The counterpart provision in the 1997
Concession Agreement specifying the attendant liabilities that the
Government would be obligated to pay should PIATCO default in
its loan obligations is equally onerous to the Government as those
contained in the ARCA. According to the 1997 Concession
Agreement, in the event the Government is forced to prematurely
take over NAIA IPT III as a result of respondent PIATCOs default
in the payment of its loan obligations to its Senior Lenders, it
would be liable to pay the following amounts as "attendant
liabilities":
Section 1.06. Attendant Liabilities
Attendant Liabilities refer to all amounts recorded and
from time to time outstanding in the books of the
Concessionaire as owing to Unpaid Creditors who
have provided, loaned or advanced funds actually used
for the Project, including all interests, penalties,
associated fees, charges, surcharges, indemnities,
reimbursements and other related expenses, and
further including amounts owed by Concessionaire to its
suppliers, contractors and sub-contractors.47
These provisions reject respondents contention that what the
Government is obligated to pay, in the event that respondent

PIATCO defaults in the payment of its loans, is merely termination


payment or just compensation for its takeover of NAIA IPT III. It is
clear from said section 1.06 that what the Government would
pay is the sum total of all the debts, including all interest,
fees and charges, that respondent PIATCO incurred in
pursuance of the NAIA IPT III Project. This reading is consistent
with section 4.04 of the ARCA itself which states that the
Government "shall make a termination payment to
Concessionaire [PIATCO] equal to the Appraised Value (as
hereinafter defined) of the Development Facility [NAIA Terminal
III] or the sum of the Attendant Liabilities, if greater." For
sure, respondent PIATCO will not receive any amount less
than sufficient to cover its debts, regardless of whether or
not the value of NAIA IPT III, at the time of its turn over to the
Government, may actually be less than the amount of
PIATCOs debts. The scheme is a form of direct government
guarantee for it is undeniable that it leaves the government no
option but to pay the "attendant liabilities" in the event that the
Senior Lenders are unable or unwilling to appoint a qualified
nominee or transferee as a result of PIATCOs default in the
payment of its Senior Loans. As we stressed in our Decision, this
Court cannot depart from the legal maxim that "those that cannot
be done directly cannot be done indirectly."
This is not to hold, however, that indirect government guarantee is
not allowed under the BOT Law, as amended. The intention to
permit indirect government guarantee is evident from the Senate
deliberations on the amendments to the BOT Law. The idea is to
allow for reasonable government undertakings, such as to
authorize the project proponent to undertake related ventures
within the project area, in order to encourage private sector
participation in development projects.48 An example cited by then
Senator Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, one of the sponsors of R.A.
No. 7718, is the Mandaluyong public market which was built under
the Build-and-Transfer ("BT") scheme wherein instead of the
government paying for the transfer, the project proponent was
allowed to operate the upper floors of the structure as a
commercial mall in order to recoup their investments.49 It was
repeatedly stressed in the deliberations that in allowing indirect
government guarantee, the law seeks to encourage both the
government and the private sector to formulate reasonable and
innovative government undertakings in pursuance of BOT
projects. In no way, however, can the government be made liable
for the debts of the project proponent as this would be tantamount
to a direct government guarantee which is prohibited by the law.

Such liability would defeat the very purpose of the BOT Law which
is to encourage the use of private sector resources in the
construction, maintenance and/or operation of development
projects with no, or at least minimal, capital outlay on the part of
the government.
The respondents again urge that should this Court affirm its ruling
that the PIATCO Contracts contain direct government guarantee
provisions, the whole contract should not be nullified. They rely on
the separability clause in the PIATCO Contracts.
We are not persuaded.
The BOT Law and its implementing rules provide that there are
three (3) essential requisites for an unsolicited proposal to be
accepted: (1) the project involves a new concept in technology
and/or is not part of the list of priority projects, (2) no direct
government guarantee, subsidy or equity is required, and (3)
the government agency or local government unit has invited by
publication other interested parties to a public bidding and
conducted the same.50 The failure to fulfill any of the requisites will
result in the denial of the proposal. Indeed, it is further provided
that a direct government guarantee, subsidy or equity provision
will "necessarily disqualify a proposal from being treated and
accepted as an unsolicited proposal."51 In fine, the mere inclusion
of a direct government guarantee in an unsolicited proposal is
fatal to the proposal. There is more reason to invalidate a contract
if a direct government guarantee provision is inserted later in the
contract via a backdoor amendment. Such an amendment
constitutes a crass circumvention of the BOT Law and renders the
entire contract void.
Respondent PIATCO likewise claims that in view of the fact that
other BOT contracts such as the JANCOM contract, the Manila
Water contract and the MRT contract had been considered valid,
the PIATCO contracts should be held valid as well.52 There is no
parity in the cited cases. For instance, a reading of Metropolitan
Manila Development Authority v. JANCOM Environmental
Corporation53 will show that its issue is different from the issues
in the cases at bar. In the JANCOM case, the main issue is
whether there is a perfected contract between JANCOM and the
Government. The resolution of the issue hinged on the following:
(1) whether the conditions precedent to the perfection of the
contract were complied with; (2) whether there is a valid notice of

award; and (3) whether the signature of the Secretary of the


Department of Environment and Natural Resources is sufficient to
bind the Government. These issue and sub-issues are clearly
distinguishable and different. For one, the issue of direct
government guarantee was not considered by this Court when it
held the JANCOM contract valid, yet, it is a key reason for
invalidating the PIATCO Contracts. It is a basic principle in law
that cases with dissimilar facts cannot have similar disposition.
This Court, however, is not unmindful of the reality that the
structures comprising the NAIA IPT III facility are almost complete
and that funds have been spent by PIATCO in their construction.
For the government to take over the said facility, it has to
compensate respondent PIATCO as builder of the said structures.
The compensation must be just and in accordance with law and
equity for the government can not unjustly enrich itself at the
expense of PIATCO and its investors.
II.
Temporary takeover of business affected with public interest
in times of national emergency
Section 17, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution grants the State in
times of national emergency the right to temporarily take over the
operation of any business affected with public interest. This right is
an exercise of police power which is one of the inherent powers of
the State.
Police power has been defined as the "state authority to enact
legislation that may interfere with personal liberty or property in
order to promote the general welfare."54 It consists of two essential
elements. First, it is an imposition of restraint upon liberty or
property. Second, the power is exercised for the benefit of the
common good. Its definition in elastic terms underscores its allencompassing and comprehensive embrace.55 It is and still is the
"most essential, insistent, and illimitable"56 of the States powers. It
is familiar knowledge that unlike the power of eminent domain,
police power is exercised without provision for just
compensation for its paramount consideration is public welfare.57
It is also settled that public interest on the occasion of a national
emergency is the primary consideration when the government
decides to temporarily take over or direct the operation of a public
utility or a business affected with public interest. The nature and

extent of the emergency is the measure of the duration of the


takeover as well as the terms thereof. It is the State that
prescribes such reasonable terms which will guide the
implementation of the temporary takeover as dictated by the
exigencies of the time. As we ruled in our Decision, this power of
the State can not be negated by any party nor should its exercise
be a source of obligation for the State.
Section 5.10(c), Article V of the ARCA provides that respondent
PIATCO "shall be entitled to reasonable compensation for the
duration of the temporary takeover by GRP, which compensation
shall take into account the reasonable cost for the use of the
Terminal and/or Terminal Complex."58 It clearly obligates the
government in the exercise of its police power to compensate
respondent PIATCO and this obligation is offensive to the
Constitution. Police power can not be diminished, let alone
defeated by any contract for its paramount consideration is public
welfare and interest.59
Again, respondent PIATCOs reliance on the case of Heirs of
Suguitan v. City of Mandaluyong 60 to justify its claim for
reasonable compensation for the Governments temporary
takeover of NAIA IPT III in times of national emergency is
erroneous. What was involved in Heirs of Suguitan is the
exercise of the states power of eminent domain and not of police
power, hence, just compensation was awarded. The cases at bar
will not involve the exercise of the power of eminent domain.
III.
Monopoly
Section 19, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution mandates that the
State prohibit or regulate monopolies when public interest so
requires. Monopolies are not per se prohibited. Given its
susceptibility to abuse, however, the State has the bounden duty
to regulate monopolies to protect public interest. Such regulation
may be called for, especially in sensitive areas such as the
operation of the countrys premier international airport,
considering the public interest at stake.
By virtue of the PIATCO contracts, NAIA IPT III would be the only
international passenger airport operating in the Island of Luzon,
with the exception of those already operating in Subic Bay
Freeport Special Economic Zone ("SBFSEZ"), Clark Special

Economic Zone ("CSEZ") and in Laoag City. Undeniably, the


contracts would create a monopoly in the operation of an
international commercial passenger airport at the NAIA in favor of
PIATCO.
The grant to respondent PIATCO of the exclusive right to operate
NAIA IPT III should not exempt it from regulation by the
government. The government has the right, indeed the duty, to
protect the interest of the public. Part of this duty is to assure that
respondent PIATCOs exercise of its right does not violate the
legal rights of third parties. We reiterate our ruling that while the
service providers presently operating at NAIA Terminals I and II do
not have the right to demand for the renewal or extension of their
contracts to continue their services in NAIA IPT III, those who
have subsisting contracts beyond the In-Service Date of NAIA IPT
III can not be arbitrarily or unreasonably treated.
Finally, the Respondent Congressmen assert that at least two (2)
committee reports by the House of Representatives found the
PIATCO contracts valid and contend that this Court, by taking
cognizance of the cases at bar, reviewed an action of a co-equal
body.61 They insist that the Court must respect the findings of the
said committees of the House of Representatives.62 With due
respect, we cannot subscribe to their submission. There is a
fundamental difference between a case in court and an
investigation of a congressional committee. The purpose of a
judicial proceeding is to settle the dispute in controversy by
adjudicating the legal rights and obligations of the parties to the
case. On the other hand, a congressional investigation is
conducted in aid of legislation.63 Its aim is to assist and
recommend to the legislature a possible action that the body may
take with regard to a particular issue, specifically as to whether or
not to enact a new law or amend an existing one. Consequently,
this Court cannot treat the findings in a congressional committee
report as binding because the facts elicited in congressional
hearings are not subject to the rigors of the Rules of Court on
admissibility of evidence. The Court in assuming jurisdiction over
the petitions at bar simply performed its constitutional duty as the
arbiter of legal disputes properly brought before it, especially in
this instance when public interest requires nothing less.
WHEREFORE, the motions for reconsideration filed by the
respondent PIATCO, respondent Congressmen and the
respondents-in-intervention are DENIED with finality.

SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Austria-Martinez, Corona, and Carpio-Morales,
JJ., concur.
Vitug, J., maintains his separate opinion in the main ponencia,
promulgated on 05 May 2003.
Panganiban, J., reiterate his separate opinion in the main case,
promulgated on May 5, 2003.
Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Azcuna,
JJ., joins J. Vitugs opinion.
Carpio, and Tinga, JJ., no part.
Callejo, Sr., J., joins J. Panganiban in his concurring opinion

G.R. No. 154599

January 21, 2004

THE LIGA NG MGA BARANGAY NATIONAL, petitioner,


vs.
THE CITY MAYOR OF MANILA, HON. JOSE ATIENZA, JR., and
THE CITY COUNCIL OF MANILA,respondents.
DECISION
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:
This petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court
seeks the nullification of Manila City Ordinance No. 8039, Series
of 2002,1 and respondent City Mayors Executive Order No. 011,
Series of 2002,2 dated 15 August 2002 , for being patently
contrary to law.
The antecedents are as follows:
Petitioner Liga ng mga Barangay National (Liga for
brevity) is the national organization of all the barangays
in the Philippines, which pursuant to Section 492 of
Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as The Local
Government Code of 1991, constitutes the duly elected
presidents of highly-urbanized cities, provincial chapters,
the metropolitan Manila Chapter, and metropolitan
political subdivision chapters.
Section 493 of that law provides that "[t]he liga at the
municipal, city, provincial, metropolitan political
subdivision, and national levels directly elect a president,
a vice-president, and five (5) members of the board of
directors." All other matters not provided for in the law
affecting the internal organization of the leagues of local
government units shall be governed by their respective
constitution and by-laws, which must always conform to
the provisions of the Constitution and existing laws.3
On 16 March 2000, the Liga adopted and ratified its own
Constitution and By-laws to govern its internal
organization.4 Section 1, third paragraph, Article XI of said
Constitution and By-Laws states:

All other election matters not covered in this Article shall


be governed by the "Liga Election Code" or such other
rules as may be promulgated by the National Liga
Executive Board in conformity with the provisions of
existing laws.
By virtue of the above-cited provision, the Liga adopted and
ratified its own Election Code.5 Section 1.2, Article I of the Liga
Election Code states:

chapters thirty days after the barangay elections. Section 3 (A)


and (B) of the assailed ordinance read:
SEC. 3. Representation Chapters. Every Barangay
shall be represented in the said Liga Chapters by the
Punong Barangayor, in his absence or incapacity, by
the kagawad duly elected for the purpose among its
members.
A. District Chapter

1.2 Liga ng mga Barangay Provincial, Metropolitan,


HUC/ICC Chapters. There shall be nationwide
synchronized elections for the provincial, metropolitan,
and HUC/ICC chapters to be held on the third Monday of
the month immediately after the month when the
synchronized elections in paragraph 1.1 above was held.
The incumbent Liga chapter president concerned duly
assisted by the proper government agency, office or
department, e.g. Provincial/City/NCR/Regional Director,
shall convene all the duly elected Component
City/Municipal Chapter Presidents and all the current
elected Punong Barangays (for HUC/ICC) of the
respective chapters in any public place within its area of
jurisdiction for the purpose of reorganizing and electing
the officers and directors of the provincial, metropolitan
or HUC/ICC Liga chapters. Said president duly assisted
by the government officer aforementioned, shall notify, in
writing, all the above concerned at least fifteen (15) days
before the scheduled election meeting on the exact date,
time, place and requirements of the said meeting.
The Liga thereafter came out with its Calendar of Activities and
Guidelines in the Implementation of the Liga Election Code of
2002,6 setting on 21 October 2002 the synchronized elections for
highly urbanized city chapters, such as the Liga Chapter of
Manila, together with independent component city, provincial, and
metropolitan chapters.lawphi1.net
On 28 June 2002, respondent City Council of Manila enacted
Ordinance No. 8039, Series of 2002, providing, among other
things, for the election of representatives of the District Chapters
in the City Chapter of Manila and setting the elections for both

All elected Barangay Chairman in each District shall elect


from among themselves the President, Vice-President
and five (5) members of the Board.
B. City Chapter
The District Chapter representatives shall automatically
become members of the Board and they shall elect from
among themselves a President, Vice-President,
Secretary, Treasurer, Auditor and create other positions
as it may deem necessary for the management of the
chapter.
The assailed ordinance was later transmitted to
respondent City Mayor Jose L. Atienza, Jr., for his
signature and approval.
On 16 July 2002, upon being informed that the ordinance
had been forwarded to the Office of the City Mayor, still
unnumbered and yet to be officially released, the Liga
sent respondent Mayor of Manila a letter requesting him
that said ordinance be vetoed considering that it
encroached upon, or even assumed, the functions of the
Liga through legislation, a function which was clearly
beyond the ambit of the powers of the City Council.7
Respondent Mayor, however, signed and approved the assailed
city ordinance and issued on 15 August 2002 Executive Order No.
011, Series of 2002, to implement the ordinance.

Hence, on 27 August 2002, the Liga filed the instant petition


raising the following issues:
I
WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT CITY COUNCIL OF
MANILA COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
AMOUNTING TO LACK OF OR IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION,
WHEN IT ENACTED CITY ORDINANCE NO. 8039 S. 2002
PURPOSELY TO GOVERN THE ELECTIONS OF THE MANILA
CHAPTER OF THE LIGA NG MGA BARANGAYS AND WHICH
PROVIDES A DIFFERENT MANNER OF ELECTING ITS
OFFICERS, DESPITE THE FACT THAT SAID CHAPTERS
ELECTIONS, AND THE ELECTIONS OF ALL OTHER
CHAPTERS OF THE LIGA NG MGA BARANGAYS FOR THAT
MATTER, ARE BY LAW MANDATED TO BE GOVERNED BY
THE LIGA CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS AND THE LIGA
ELECTION CODE.
II
WHETHER OR NOT THE RESPONDENT CITY MAYOR OF
MANILA COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION
AMOUNTING TO LACK OF OR IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION
WHEN HE ISSUED EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 011 TO
IMPLEMENT THE QUESTIONED CITY ORDINANCE NO. 8039
S. 2002.
In support of its petition, the Liga argues that City Ordinance No.
8039, Series of 2002, and Executive Order No. 011, Series of
2002, contradict the Liga Election Code and are therefore invalid.
There exists neither rhyme nor reason, not to mention the
absence of legal basis, for the Manila City Council to encroach
upon, or even assume, the functions of the Liga by prescribing,
through legislation, the manner of conducting the Liga elections
other than what has been provided for by the Liga Constitution
and By-laws and the Liga Election Code. Accordingly, the subject
ordinance is an ultra vires act of the respondents and, as such,
should be declared null and void.
As for its prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order,
the petitioner cites as reason therefor the fact that under Section 5
of the assailed city ordinance, the Manila District Chapter
elections would be held thirty days after the regular barangay

elections. Hence, it argued that the issuance of a temporary


restraining order and/or preliminary injunction would be imperative
to prevent the implementation of the ordinance and executive
order.
On 12 September 2002, Barangay Chairman Arnel Pea, in his
capacity as a member of the Liga ng mga Barangay in the City
Chapter of Manila, filed a Complaint in Intervention with Urgent
Motion for the Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order and/or
Preliminary Injunction.8 He supports the position of the Liga and
prays for the declaration of the questioned ordinance and
executive order, as well as the elections of the Liga ng mga
Barangay pursuant thereto, to be null and void. The assailed
ordinance prescribing for an "indirect manner of election"
amended, in effect, the provisions of the Local Government Code
of 1991, which provides for the election of the Liga officers at
large. It also violated and curtailed the rights of the petitioner and
intervenor, as well as the other 896 Barangay Chairmen in the
City of Manila, to vote and be voted upon in a direct election.
On 25 October 2002, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG)
filed a Manifestation in lieu of Comment.9 It supports the petition of
the Liga, arguing that the assailed city ordinance and executive
order are clearly inconsistent with the express public policy
enunciated in R.A. No. 7160. Local political subdivisions are able
to legislate only by virtue of a valid delegation of legislative power
from the national legislature. They are mere agents vested with
what is called the power of subordinate legislation. Thus, the
enactments in question, which are local in origin, cannot prevail
against the decree, which has the force and effect of law.
On the issue of non-observance by the petitioners of the
hierarchy-of-courts rule, the OSG posits that technical rules of
procedure should be relaxed in the instant petition. While Batas
Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended, grants original jurisdiction over
cases of this nature to the Regional Trial Court (RTC), the
exigency of the present petition, however, calls for the relaxation
of this rule. Section 496 (should be Section 491) of the Local
Government Code of 1991 primarily intended that the Liga ng
mga Barangay determine the representation of the Liga in the
sanggunians for the immediate ventilation, articulation, and
crystallization of issues affecting barangay government
administration. Thus, the immediate resolution of this petition is a
must.

On the other hand, the respondents defend the validity of the


assailed ordinance and executive order and pray for the dismissal
of the present petition on the following grounds:
(1) certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is unavailing; (2)
the petition should not be entertained by this Court in view of the
pendency before the Regional Trial Court of Manila of two actions
or petitions questioning the subject ordinance and executive
order; (3) the petitioner is guilty of forum shopping; and (4) the act
sought to be enjoined is fait accompli.
The respondents maintain that certiorari is an extraordinary
remedy available to one aggrieved by the decision of a tribunal,
officer, or board exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions. The
City Council and City Mayor of Manila are not the "board" and
"officer" contemplated in Rule 65 of the Rules of Court because
both do not exercise judicial functions. The enactment of the
subject ordinance and issuance of the questioned executive order
are legislative and executive functions, respectively, and thus, do
not fall within the ambit of "judicial functions." They are both within
the prerogatives, powers, and authority of the City Council and
City Mayor of Manila, respectively. Furthermore, the petition failed
to show with certainty that the respondents acted without or in
excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion.
The respondents also asseverate that the petitioner cannot claim
that it has no other recourse in addressing its grievance other than
this petition for certiorari. As a matter of fact, there are two cases
pending before Branches 33 and 51 of the RTC of Manila (one is
for mandamus; the other, for declaratory relief) and three in the
Court of Appeals (one is for prohibition; the two other cases,
for quo warranto), which are all akin to the present petition in the
sense that the relief being sought therein is the declaration of the
invalidity of the subject ordinance. Clearly, the petitioner may ask
the RTC or the Court of Appeals the relief being prayed for before
this Court. Moreover, the petitioner failed to prove discernible
compelling reasons attending the present petition that would
warrant cognizance of the present petition by this Court.
Besides, according to the respondents, the petitioner has
transgressed the proscription against forum-shopping in filing the
instant suit. Although the parties in the other pending cases and in
this petition are different individuals or entities, they represent the
same interest.

With regard to petitioner's prayer for temporary restraining order


and/ or preliminary injunction in its petition, the respondents
maintain that the same had become moot and academic in view of
the elections of officers of the City Liga ng mga Barangay on 15
September 2002 and their subsequent assumption to their
respective offices.10Since the acts to be enjoined are now fait
accompli, this petition for certiorari with an application for
provisional remedies must necessarily fail. Thus, where the
records show that during the pendency of the case certain events
or circumstances had taken place that render the case moot and
academic, the petition for certiorari must be dismissed.
After due deliberation on the pleadings filed, we resolve to dismiss
this petition for certiorari.
First, the respondents neither acted in any judicial or quasi-judicial
capacity nor arrogated unto themselves any judicial or quasijudicial prerogatives. A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure is a special civil action that may be
invoked only against a tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial
or quasi-judicial functions.
Section 1, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides:
SECTION 1. Petition for certiorari. When any tribunal,
board or officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial
functions has acted without or in excess of its or his
jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting
to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and there is no appeal,
or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the
ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby may
file a verified petition in the proper court, alleging the
facts with certainty and praying that judgment be
rendered annulling or modifying the proceedings of such
tribunal, board or officer, and granting such incidental
reliefs as law and justice may require.
Elsewise stated, for a writ of certiorari to issue, the
following requisites must concur: (1) it must be directed
against a tribunal, board, or officer exercising judicial or
quasi-judicial functions; (2) the tribunal, board, or officer
must have acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or
with grave abuse of discretion amounting lack or excess
of jurisdiction; and (3) there is no appeal or any plain,

speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of


law.
A respondent is said to be exercising judicial function
where he has the power to determine what the law is and
what the legal rights of the parties are, and then
undertakes to determine these questions and adjudicate
upon the rights of the parties.11
Quasi-judicial function, on the other hand, is "a term which applies
to the actions, discretion, etc., of public administrative officers or
bodies required to investigate facts or ascertain the existence
of facts, hold hearings, and draw conclusions from them as a
basis for their official action and to exercise discretion of a judicial
nature."12
Before a tribunal, board, or officer may exercise judicial or quasijudicial acts, it is necessary that there be a law that gives rise to
some specific rights of persons or property under which adverse
claims to such rights are made, and the controversy ensuing
therefrom is brought before a tribunal, board, or officer clothed
with power and authority to determine the law and adjudicate the
respective rights of the contending parties.13
The respondents do not fall within the ambit of tribunal, board, or
officer exercising judicial or quasi-judicial functions. As correctly
pointed out by the respondents, the enactment by the City Council
of Manila of the assailed ordinance and the issuance by
respondent Mayor of the questioned executive order were done in
the exercise of legislative and executive functions, respectively,
and not of judicial or quasi-judicial functions. On this score alone,
certiorari will not lie.
Second, although the instant petition is styled as a petition for
certiorari, in essence, it seeks the declaration by this Court of the
unconstitutionality or illegality of the questioned ordinance and
executive order. It, thus, partakes of the nature of a petition for
declaratory relief over which this Court has only appellate, not
original, jurisdiction.14Section 5, Article VIII of the Constitution
provides:
Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following
powers:

(1) Exercise original jurisdiction over cases


affecting ambassadors, other public ministers
and consuls, and over petitions for certiorari,
prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and
habeas corpus.
(2) Review, revise, reverse, modify, or affirm on
appeal or certiorari as the law or the Rules of
Court may provide, final judgments and orders
of lower courts in:
(a) All cases in which the
constitutionality or validity of any treaty,
international or executive agreement,
law, presidential decree, proclamation,
order, instruction, ordinance, or
regulation is in question.
(Italics supplied).
As such, this petition must necessary fail, as this Court
does not have original jurisdiction over a petition for
declaratory relief even if only questions of law are
involved.15
Third, even granting arguendo that the present petition is ripe for
the extraordinary writ of certiorari, there is here a clear disregard
of the hierarchy of courts. No special and important reason or
exceptional and compelling circumstance has been adduced by
the petitioner or the intervenor why direct recourse to this Court
should be allowed.
We have held that this Courts original jurisdiction to issue a writ
of certiorari (as well as of prohibition, mandamus,quo
warranto, habeas corpus and injunction) is not exclusive, but is
concurrent with the Regional Trial Courts and the Court of Appeals
in certain cases. As aptly stated in People v. Cuaresma:16
This concurrence of jurisdiction is not, however, to be
taken as according to parties seeking any of the writs an
absolute, unrestrained freedom of choice of the court to
which application therefor0 will be directed. There is after
all a hierarchy of courts. That hierarchy is determinative
of the venue of appeals, and also serves as a general
determinant of the appropriate forum for petitions for the

extraordinary writs. A becoming regard of that judicial


hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for the
issuance of extraordinary writs against first level
("inferior") courts should be filed with the Regional Trial
Court, and those against the latter, with the Court of
Appeals. A direct invocation of the Supreme Courts
original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed
only when there are special and important reasons
therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition.
This is [an] established policy. It is a policy necessary to
prevent inordinate demands upon the Courts time and
attention which are better devoted to those matters within
its exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further overcrowding of the Courts docket.
As we have said in Santiago v. Vasquez,17 the propensity of
litigants and lawyers to disregard the hierarchy of courts in our
judicial system by seeking relief directly from this Court must be
put to a halt for two reasons: (1) it would be an imposition upon
the precious time of this Court; and (2) it would cause an
inevitable and resultant delay, intended or otherwise, in the
adjudication of cases, which in some instances had to be
remanded or referred to the lower court as the proper forum under
the rules of procedure, or as better equipped to resolve the issues
because this Court is not a trier of facts.
Thus, we shall reaffirm the judicial policy that this Court will not
entertain direct resort to it unless the redress desired cannot be
obtained in the appropriate courts, and exceptional and
compelling circumstances justify the availment of the
extraordinary remedy of writ of certiorari, calling for the exercise of
its primary jurisdiction.18
Petitioners reliance on Pimentel v. Aguirre19 is misplaced because
the non-observance of the hierarchy-of-courts rule was not an
issue therein. Besides, what was sought to be nullified in the
petition for certiorari and prohibition therein was an act of the
President of the Philippines, which would have greatly affected all
local government units. We reiterated therein that when an act of
the legislative department is seriously alleged to have infringed
the Constitution, settling the controversy becomes the duty of this
Court. The same is true when what is seriously alleged to be
unconstitutional is an act of the President, who in our
constitutional scheme is coequal with Congress.

We hesitate to rule that the petitioner and the intervenor are guilty
of forum-shopping. Forum-shopping exists where the elements
of litis pendentia are present or when a final judgment in one case
will amount to res judicatain the other. For litis pendentia to exist,
the following requisites must be present: (1) identity of parties, or
at least such parties as are representing the same interests in
both actions; (2) identity of rights asserted and reliefs prayed for,
the reliefs being founded on the same facts; and (3) identity with
respect to the two preceding particulars in the two cases, such
that any judgment that may be rendered in the pending case,
regardless of which party is successful, would amount to res
judicata in the other case.20
In the instant petition, and as admitted by the respondents, the
parties in this case and in the alleged other pending cases are
different individuals or entities; thus, forum-shopping cannot be
said to exist. Moreover, even assuming that those five petitions
are indeed pending before the RTC of Manila and the Court of
Appeals, we can only guess the causes of action and issues
raised before those courts, considering that the respondents failed
to furnish this Court with copies of the said petitions.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Vitug, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago,
Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, CarpioMorales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur.
Panganiban, J., in the result.

[G.R. No. 139791. December 12, 2003]


MANILA

BANKERS
LIFE
CORPORATION, petitioner, vs.
WEI, respondent.

EDDY

INSURANCE
NG KOK

DECISION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the
Decision[1] dated March 26, 1999 and Resolution[2] dated August 5,
1999 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 40504, entitled
Eddy Ng Kok Wei vs. Manila Bankers Life Insurance
Corporation.
The factual antecedents as borne by the records are:
Eddy Ng Kok Wei, respondent, is a Singaporean
businessman
who
ventured
into
investing
in
the Philippines. On November 29, 1988, respondent, in a Letter
of Intent addressed to Manila Bankers Life Insurance Corporation,
petitioner, expressed his intention to purchase a condominium unit
at Valle Verde Terraces.
Subsequently or on December 5, 1988, respondent paid
petitioner a reservation fee of P50,000.00 for the purchase of a
46-square meter condominium unit (Unit 703) valued
atP860,922.00. On January 16, 1989, respondent paid 90% of the
purchase price in the sum of P729,830.00.
Consequently, petitioner, through its President, Mr. Antonio
G. Puyat, executed a Contract to Sell in favor of the
respondent. The contract expressly states that the subject
condominium unit shall substantially be completed and delivered
to the respondent within fifteen (15) months from February 8,
1989 or on May 8, 1990, and that (S)hould there be no
substantial completion and fail(ure) to deliver the unit on the date
specified, a penalty of 1% of the total amount paid (by
respondent) shall be charged against (petitioner).

Considering that the stipulated 15-month period was at


hand, respondent returned to the Philippines sometime in April,
1990.

1.

One percent (1%) of the total amount plaintiff paid defendant;

2.

P100,000.00 as moral damages;

In a letter dated April 5, 1990, petitioner, through its Senior


Assistant Vice-President, Mr. Mario G. Zavalla, informed
respondent of the substantial completion of his condominium unit,
however, due to various uncontrollable forces (such as coup d
etat attempts, typhoon and steel and cement shortage), the final
turnover is reset to May 31, 1990.

3.

P50,000.00 as exemplary damages;

4.

P25,000.00 by way of attorneys fees; and Cost of suit.

Meanwhile, on July 5, 1990, upon receipt of petitioners


notice of delivery dated May 31, 1990, respondent again flew back
to Manila. He found the unit still uninhabitable for lack of water
and electric facilities.
Once more, petitioner issued another notice to move-in
addressed to its building administrator advising the latter that
respondent is scheduled to move in on August 22, 1990.
On October
5,
1990,
respondent
returned
to
the Philippines only to find that his condominium unit was still
unlivable. Exasperated, he was constrained to send petitioner a
letter datedNovember 21, 1990 demanding payment for the
damages he sustained. But petitioner ignored such demand,
prompting respondent to file with the Regional Trial Court, Branch
150,Makati City, a complaint against the former for specific
performance and damages, docketed as Civil Case No. 90-3440.
Meanwhile, during the pendency of the case, respondent
finally accepted the condominium unit and on April 12, 1991,
occupied the same. Thus, respondents cause of action has been
limited to his claim for damages.
On December 18, 1992, the trial court rendered a
Decision[3] finding the petitioner liable for payment of damages
due to the delay in the performance of its obligation to the
respondent. The dispositive portion reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiff and
against defendant, ordering Manila Bankers Life Insurance Corporation
to pay plaintiff Eddy Ng Kok Wei the following:

SO ORDERED.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals, in a Decision dated March
26, 1999, affirmed in toto the trial courts award of damages in
favor of the respondent.
Unsatisfied, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but
was denied by the Appellate Court in a Resolution dated August 5,
1999.
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari. Petitioner
contends that the trial court has no jurisdiction over the instant
case; and that the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the trial
courts finding that petitioner incurred unreasonable delay in the
delivery of the condominium unit to respondent.
On petitioners contention that the trial court has no
jurisdiction over the instant case, Section 1 (c) of Presidential
Decree No. 1344, as amended, provides:
SECTION 1. In the exercise of its functions to regulate the real estate
trade and business and in addition to its powers provided for in
Presidential Decree No. 957, the National Housing Authority [now
Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB)][4] shall
have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide cases of the following
nature:
xxx
C. Cases involving specific performance of contractual and statutory
obligations filed by buyers of subdivision lots or condominium units
against the owner, developer, dealer, broker or salesman.
x x x.

Pursuant to the above provisions, it is the HLURB which has


jurisdiction over the instant case. We have consistently held that
complaints for specific performance with damages by a lot or
condominium unit buyer against the owner or developer falls
under the exclusive jurisdiction of the HLURB.[5]
While it may be true that the trial court is without jurisdiction
over the case, petitioners active participation in the proceedings
estopped it from assailing such lack of it. We have held that it is
an undesirable practice of a party participating in the proceedings
and submitting its case for decision and then accepting the
judgment, only if favorable, and attacking it for lack of jurisdiction,
when adverse.[6]
Here, petitioner failed to raise the question of jurisdiction
before the trial court and the Appellate Court. In effect, petitioner
confirmed and ratified the trial courts jurisdiction over this
case. Certainly, it is now in estoppel and can no longer question
the trial courts jurisdiction.
On petitioners claim that it did not incur delay, suffice it to
say that this is a factual issue. Time and again, we have ruled
that the factual findings of the trial court are given weight when
supported by substantial evidence and carries more weight when
affirmed by the Court of Appeals. [7] Whether or not petitioner
incurred delay and thus, liable to pay damages as a result
thereof, are indeed factual questions.
The jurisdiction of this Court in a petition for review
on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
as amended, is limited to reviewing only errors of law, not of fact,
unless the factual findings being assailed are not supported by
evidence on record or the impugned judgment is based on a
misapprehension of facts.[8] These exceptions are not present
here.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed
Decision dated March 26, 1999 and Resolution dated August 5,
1999 of the Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED IN TOTO.
Costs against the petitioner. SO ORDERED. Vitug,
(Chairman), Corona, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.

[A.M. No. MTJ-01-1370. April 25, 2003]


OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, complainant, vs.
JUDGE AGUSTIN T. SARDIDO, Municipal Trial Court
of Koronadal, South Cotabato,respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is an administrative case against respondent Judge
Agustin T. Sardido (Judge Sardido) formerly presiding judge of
the Municipal Trial Court of Koronadal, South Cotabato, for gross
ignorance of the law. Judge Sardido issued an Order dated 20
October 1998 excluding Judge Braulio Hurtado, Jr. (Judge
Hurtado) of the Regional Trial Court of Kabacan, North Cotabato
as one of the accused in an Amended Information.[1] Judge
Sardido ruled that Supreme Court Circular No. 3-89 requires that
Judge Hurtado be dropped from the Amended Information and his
case be forwarded to the Court.
The Facts
Private complainant Teresita Aguirre Magbanua accused
Oscar Pagunsan and Danilo Ong of the crime of Falsification by
Private Individual and Use of Falsified Document.[2] The Amended
Information included Judge Hurtado. The case, docketed as
Criminal Case No. 14071, was raffled to Judge Sardido, then
presiding judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Koronadal, South
Cotabato (MTC-Koronadal).
In a Deed of Absolute Sale dated 8 August 1993, private
complainant Magbanua and six other vendors allegedly sold two
parcels of land, covered by TCT Nos. 47873 and 33633 and
located at the commercial district of Koronadal, to Davao Realty
Development Corporation, represented by accused Ong, with coaccused Pagunsan, as broker. Judge Hurtado, who at that time
was the Clerk of Court of RTC-Koronadal and ex-officio notary
public, notarized the Deed of Absolute Sale.

However, private complainant Magbanua denies signing the


Deed of Absolute Sale dated 8 August 1993 which states that the
consideration for the sale was only P600,000.00. Private
complainant asserts that what she and the other vendors signed
was a Deed of Absolute Sale dated 6 August 1996 for a
consideration of P16,000,000.00. Under the terms of the sale, the
vendee agreed to pay for the capital gains tax. The consideration
in the 8 August 1993 Deed of Absolute Sale was apparently
undervalued. Subsequently, the Bureau of Internal Revenue
assessed the vendors a deficiency capital gains tax
of P1,023,375.00.
Judge Hurtado filed a motion praying that the criminal
complaint against him be forwarded to the Supreme Court. Judge
Hurtado claimed that Circular No. 3-89 dated 6 February 1989
requires all cases involving justices and judges of the lower
courts, whether or not such complaints deal with acts apparently
unrelated to the discharge of their official functions, such as acts
of immorality, estafa, crimes against persons and property, etc. to
be forwarded to the Supreme Court. Judge Hurtado asserted
that since the case against him is one involving a judge of a lower
court, the same should be forwarded to the Supreme Court
pursuant to Circular No. 3-89.
The Provincial Prosecutor opposed Judge Hurtados motion,
arguing that the case against Judge Hurtado is not within the
scope of Circular No. 3-89 since it is not an IBP-initiated case.
Moreover, the offense charged was committed in 1993 when
Judge Hurtado was still a clerk of court and ex-officio notary
public.
On 20 October 1998, Judge Sardido issued an Order, the
pertinent portions of which read:
The issue to be resolved in the instant case is, whether the case of Judge
Hurtado, who is charged for acts committed prior to his appointment as
an RTC Judge, falls within the purview of the afore-said Circular No. 389.
It is the humble submission of the Court that the case of Judge Hurtado,
an RTC Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Kabacan, North Cotabato,
falls within the meaning and intent of the said circular.

For reasons being, firstly, the said circular provides that all cases
involving justices and judges of lower courts shall be forwarded to the
Supreme Court for appropriate action, whether or not such complaints
deal with acts apparently unrelated to the discharge of their official
functions, and regardless of the nature of the crime, without any
qualification whether the crime was committed before or during his
tenure of office. Under the law on Legal Hermeneutics, if the law does
not qualify we must not qualify. Secondly, it would sound, to the mind of
the Court, awkward for a first level court to be trying an incumbent
judge of a second level court.
For reasons afore-stated, this Court can not and shall not try this case as
against Judge Hurtado, unless the Honorable Supreme Court would order
otherwise.
Wherefore, the foregoing premises duly considered, the name of Judge
Braulio L. Hurtado, Jr. is ordered excluded from the amended
information and the case against him is ordered forwarded to the
Honorable Supreme Court, pursuant to the afore-said Circular No. 3-89
of the Supreme Court, dated February 9, 1989.
Accordingly, Maxima S. Borja (Borja), Stenographer I and
Acting Clerk of Court II of the MTC-Koronadal, South Cotabato,
wrote a letter dated 21 July 1999 forwarding the criminal case
against Judge Hurtado to the Court Administrator for appropriate
action.
Then Court Administrator Alfredo L. Benipayo issued a
Memorandum dated 25 October 2000 pointing out that Circular
No. 3-89 refers only to administrative complaints filed with the IBP
against justices and judges of lower courts. The Circular does not
apply to criminal cases filed before trial courts against such
justices and judges.
Thus, in the Resolution of 6 December 2000, the Court
directed that the letter of Acting Clerk of Court Borja be returned to
the MTC-Koronadal together with the records of the criminal
case. The Court directed Judge Sardido to explain in writing why
he should not be held liable for gross ignorance of the law for
excluding Judge Hurtado from the Amended Information and for
transmitting the records of Judge Hurtados case to the Court.

In his Explanation dated 26 January 2001, Judge Sardido


reasoned out that he excluded Judge Hurtado because Circular
No. 3-89 directs the IBP to forward to the Supreme Court for
appropriate action all cases involving justices and judges of lower
courts x x x. Judge Sardido claims that the Circular likewise
applies to courts in cases involving justices or judges of the lower
courts, especially so in this case where Judge Hurtado was
charged with falsification of public document as a notary public
while he was still the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of
the 11th Judicial Region in Koronadal, South Cotabato.
In the Resolution of 28 March 2001, the Court referred this
case to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for
evaluation, report and recommendation. On 10 July 2001, the
OCA submitted a Memorandum recommending that this case be
re-docketed as a regular administrative matter.
Judge Sardido filed his Manifestation dated 20 September
2001 stating that he is submitting the case for decision based on
the pleadings and records already filed. Judge Sardido insisted
that he did what he had done in all honesty and good faith.
OCAs Findings and Conclusions
The OCA found that Judge Sardido erred in excluding Judge
Hurtado as one of the accused in the Amended Information in
Criminal Case No. 14071. The OCA held that Circular No. 3-89,
which is Judge Sardidos basis in issuing the Order of 20 October
1998, refers to administrative complaints filed with the IBP against
justices and judges of lower courts. The Circular does not apply
to criminal cases filed against justices and judges of lower
courts. The OCA recommended that a fine of P5,000.00 be
imposed on Judge Sardido for gross ignorance of the law.
The Courts Ruling
The Court issued Circular No. 3-89 in response to a letter
dated 19 December 1988 by then IBP President Leon M. Garcia,
seeking clarification of the Courts En Banc Resolution of 29
November 1998 in RE: Letter of then Acting Presiding Justice
Rodolfo A. Nocon[3] and Associate Justices Reynato
Puno[4] and Alfredo Marigomen[5] of the Court of Appeals.

A certain Atty. Eduardo R. Balaoing had filed a complaint


against Court of Appeals Justices Nocon, Puno and Marigomen
relating to a petition filed before their division. In its En Banc
Resolution of 29 November 1988, the Court required the IBP to
refer to the Supreme Court for appropriate action the
complaint[6] filed by Atty. Balaoing with the IBP Commission on
Bar Discipline. The Court stated that the power to discipline
justices and judges of the lower courts is within the Courts
exclusive power and authority as provided in Section 11, Article
VII of the 1987 Constitution.[7] The Court Administrator publicized
the En Banc Resolution of 29 November 1988 by issuing Circular
No. 17 dated 20 December 1988.
The Court issued Circular No. 3-89 on 6 February 1989
clarifying the En Banc Resolution of 29 November 1988. Circular
No. 3-89 provides in part as follows:
(1) The IBP (Board of Governors and Commission on Bar Discipline)
shall forward to the Supreme Court for appropriate action all cases
involving justices and judges of lower courts, whether or not such
complaints deal with acts apparently unrelated to the discharge of their
official functions, such as acts of immorality, estafa, crimes against
persons and property, etc. x x x. (Emphasis supplied)
Circular No. 3-89 clarified the second paragraph, Section 1
of Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court which states that:
The IBP Board of Governors may, motu proprio or upon referral by the
Supreme Court or by a Chapter Board of Officers, or at the instance of
any person, initiate and prosecute proper charges against erringattorneys
including those in the government service. (Emphasis supplied).
As clarified, the phrase attorneys x x x in the government
service in Section 1 of Rule 139-B does not include justices of
appellate courts and judges of lower courts who are not subject to
the disciplining authority of the IBP. All administrative cases
against justices of appellate courts and judges of lower courts fall
exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
However, Rule 139-B refers to Disbarment and Discipline of
Attorneys which is administrative and not criminal in nature. The
cases referred to in Circular No. 3-89 are administrative cases for
disbarment, suspension or discipline of attorneys, including
justices of appellate courts and judges of the lower courts. The

Court has vested the IBP with the power to initiate and prosecute
administrative cases against erring lawyers. [8] However, under
Circular No. 3-89, the Court has directed the IBP to refer to the
Supreme Court for appropriate action all administrative cases filed
with IBP against justices of appellate courts and judges of the
lower courts. As mandated by the Constitution, the Court
exercises the exclusive power to discipline administratively
justices of appellate courts and judges of lower courts.
Circular No. 3-89 does not refer to criminal cases against
erring justices of appellate courts or judges of lower courts. Trial
courts retain jurisdiction over the criminal aspect of offenses
committed by justices of appellate courts [9] and judges of lower
courts. This is clear from the Circular directing the IBP, and not
the trial courts, to refer all administrative cases filed against
justices of appellate courts and judges of lower courts to the
Supreme Court. The case filed against Judge Hurtado is not an
administrative case filed with the IBP. It is a criminal case filed
with the trial court under its jurisdiction as prescribed by law.
The acts or omissions of a judge may well constitute at the
same time both a criminal act and an administrative offense.
Whether the criminal case against Judge Hurtado relates to an act
committed before or after he became a judge is of no moment.
Neither is it material that an MTC judge will be trying an RTC
judge in the criminal case. A criminal case against an attorney or
judge is distinct and separate from an administrative case against
him. The dismissal of the criminal case does not warrant the
dismissal of an administrative case arising from the same set of
facts. The quantum of evidence that is required in the latter is
only preponderance of evidence, and not proof beyond
reasonable doubt which is required in criminal cases.[10] As held
in Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pool, Inc. v. Naldoza:[11]
Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They
are distinct from and they may proceed independently of civil and
criminal cases.
The burden of proof for these types of cases differ. In a criminal case,
proof beyond reasonable doubt is necessary; in an administrative case for
disbarment or suspension, clearly preponderant evidence is all that is
required. Thus, a criminal prosecution will not constitute a prejudicial
question even if the same facts and circumstances are attendant in the
administrative proceedings.

It should be emphasized that a finding of guilt in the criminal case will


not necessarily result in a finding of liability in the administrative case.
Conversely, respondents acquittal does not necessarily exculpate him
administratively. In the same vein, the trial courts finding of civil
liability against the respondent will not inexorably lead to a similar
finding in the administrative action before this Court. Neither will a
favorable disposition in the civil action absolve the administrative
liability of the lawyer. The basic premise is that criminal and civil cases
are altogether different from administrative matters, such that the
disposition in the first two will not inevitably govern the third and vice
versa. For this reason, it would be well to remember the Courts ruling
in In re Almacen, which we quote:
x x x Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui generis. Neither
purely civil nor purely criminal, they do not involve a trial of an action
or a suit, but are rather investigations by the Court into the conduct of
one of its officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, [they are]
in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a
plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. [They] may be initiated by the
Court motu proprio. Public interest is [their] primary objective, and the
real question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit
person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its
disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to
account for his actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in view
of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest
administration of justice by purging the profession of members who by
their misconduct have prove[n] themselves no longer worthy to be
entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of
an attorney. x x x
A judge is called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory
acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules. He must be
conversant with basic legal principles and well-settled
doctrines. He should strive for excellence and seek the truth with
passion.[12] Judge Sardido failed in this regard. He erred in
excluding Judge Hurtado as one of the accused in the Amended
Information and in forwarding the criminal case against Judge
Hurtado to the Court.
One last point. This administrative case against Judge
Sardido started before the amendment[13] of Rule 140 classifying
gross ignorance of the law a serious offense punishable by a fine
of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00. The
amendment cannot apply retroactively to Judge Sardidos

case. However, the fine of P5,000.00 recommended by the OCA


is too light a penalty considering that this is not the first offense of
Judge Sardido.
In RE: Hold Departure Order Issued by Judge Agustin T.
Sardido,[14] the Court reprimanded Judge Sardido for issuing a
hold-departure order contrary to Circular No. 39-97. InCabilao v.
Judge Sardido,[15] the Court fined Judge Sardido P5,000.00 for
gross ignorance of the law, grave abuse of discretion and gross
misconduct. The Court gave a stern warning to Judge Sardido
that a commission of the same or similar act would be dealt with
more severely. In Almeron v. Judge Sardido,[16] the Court
imposed on Judge Sardido a stiffer fine ofP10,000.00 for gross
ignorance of the law. He was again sternly warned that the
commission of the same or similar act in the future would be dealt
with more severely including, if warranted, his dismissal from the
service.
In a more recent administrative case, Torcende v. Judge
Sardido,[17] the Court found Judge Sardido again guilty of gross
ignorance of the law and of gross misconduct. This time the
Court dismissed Judge Sardido from the service with forfeiture of
his retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits. The
dismissal was with prejudice to reemployment in any branch of the
government or any of its agencies or instrumentalities, including
government-owned and controlled corporations.
The records of the OCA further disclose that Judge Sardido
has other similar administrative complaints[18] still pending against
him. Such an unflattering service record erodes the peoples faith
and confidence in the judiciary. It is the duty of every member of
the bench to avoid any impression of impropriety to protect the
image and integrity of the judiciary.[19] The Court may still impose
a fine on Judge Sardido in the instant case despite his dismissal
from the service.
WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Agustin T. Sardido is
FINED Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) for gross ignorance of
the law. The fine may be deducted from his accrued leave credits.
SO ORDERED.
Davide,
Jr.,
C.J.,
(Chairman),
Santiago, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

Vitug,

Ynares-

G.R. No. 151149

September 7, 2004

GEORGE KATON, petitioner,


vs.
MANUEL PALANCA JR., LORENZO AGUSTIN, JESUS
GAPILANGO and JUAN FRESNILLO, respondents.
DECISION

"WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED. No


pronouncement as to cost."4
The assailed Resolution, on the other hand, denied the Motion for
Reconsideration filed by petitioner. It affirmed the RTCs dismissal
of his Complaint in Civil Case No. 3231, not on the grounds relied
upon by the trial court, but because of prescription and lack of
jurisdiction.
The Antecedent Facts

PANGANIBAN, J.:
Where prescription, lack of jurisdiction or failure to state a cause
of action clearly appear from the complaint filed with the trial court,
the action may be dismissed motu proprio by the Court of
Appeals, even if the case has been elevated for review on
different grounds. Verily, the dismissal of such cases appropriately
ends useless litigations.
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court, assailing the December 8, 2000 Decision2and the
November 20, 2001 Resolution3 of the Court of Appeals in CA-GR
SP No. 57496. The assailed Decision disposed as follows:
"Assuming that petitioner is correct in saying that he has
the exclusive right in applying for the patent over the land
in question, it appears that his action is already barred by
laches because he slept on his alleged right for almost
23 years from the time the original certificate of title has
been issued to respondent Manuel Palanca, Jr., or after
35 years from the time the land was certified as
agricultural land. In addition, the proper party in the
annulment of patents or titles acquired through fraud is
the State; thus, the petitioners action is deemed
misplaced as he really does not have any right to assert
or protect. What he had during the time he requested for
the re-classification of the land was the privilege of
applying for the patent over the same upon the lands
conversion from forest to agricultural.

The CA narrates the antecedent facts as follows:


"On August 2, 1963, herein [P]etitioner [George Katon]
filed a request with the District Office of the Bureau of
Forestry in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, for the reclassification of a piece of real property known as
Sombrero Island, located in Tagpait, Aborlan, Palawan,
which consists of approximately 18 hectares. Said
property is within Timberland Block of LC Project No. 10C of Aborlan, Palawan, per BF Map LC No. 1582.
"Thereafter, the Bureau of Forestry District Office, Puerto
Princesa, Palawan, ordered the inspection, investigation
and survey of the land subject of the petitioners request
for eventual conversion or re-classification from forest to
agricultural land, and thereafter for George Katon to
apply for a homestead patent.
"Gabriel Mandocdoc (now retired Land Classification
Investigator) undertook the investigation, inspection and
survey of the area in the presence of the petitioner, his
brother Rodolfo Katon (deceased) and his cousin,
[R]espondent Manuel Palanca, Jr. During said survey,
there were no actual occupants on the island but there
were some coconut trees claimed to have been planted
by petitioner and [R]espondent Manuel Palanca, Jr.
(alleged overseer of petitioner) who went to the island
from time to time to undertake development work, like
planting of additional coconut trees.
"The application for conversion of the whole Sombrero
Island was favorably endorsed by the Forestry District

Office of Puerto Princesa to its main office in Manila for


appropriate action. The names of Felicisimo Corpuz,
Clemente Magdayao and Jesus Gapilango and Juan
Fresnillo were included in the endorsement as coapplicants of the petitioner.
"In a letter dated September 23, 1965, then Asst.
Director of Forestry R.J.L. Utleg informed the Director of
Lands, Manila, that since the subject land was no longer
needed for forest purposes, the same is therefore
certified and released as agricultural land for disposition
under the Public Land Act.
"Petitioner contends that the whole area known as
Sombrero Island had been classified from forest land to
agricultural land and certified available for disposition
upon his request and at his instance. However, Mr. Lucio
Valera, then [l]and investigator of the District Land Office,
Puerto Princesa, Palawan, favorably endorsed the
request of [R]espondents Manuel Palanca Jr. and
Lorenzo Agustin, for authority to survey on November 15,
1965. On November 22, a second endorsement was
issued by Palawan District Officer Diomedes De Guzman
with specific instruction to survey vacant portions of
Sombrero Island for the respondents consisting of five
(5) hectares each. On December 10, 1965, Survey
Authority No. R III-342-65 was issued authorizing Deputy
Public Land Surveyor Eduardo Salvador to survey ten
(10) hectares of Sombrero Island for the respondents.
On December 23, 1990, [R]espondent Lorenzo Agustin
filed a homestead patent application for a portion of the
subject island consisting of an area of 4.3 hectares.
"Records show that on November 8, 1996, [R]espondent
Juan Fresnillo filed a homestead patent application for a
portion of the island comprising 8.5 hectares. Records
also reveal that [R]espondent Jesus Gapilango filed a
homestead application on June 8, 1972. Respondent
Manuel Palanca, Jr. was issued Homestead Patent No.
145927 and OCT No. G-7089 on March 3, 19775 with an
area of 6.84 hectares of Sombrero Island.

"Petitioner assails the validity of the homestead patents


and original certificates of title covering certain portions
of Sombrero Island issued in favor of respondents on the
ground that the same were obtained through fraud.
Petitioner prays for the reconveyance of the whole island
in his favor.
"On the other hand, [R]espondent Manuel Palanca, Jr.
claims that he himself requested for the reclassification
of the island in dispute and that on or about the time of
such request, [R]espondents Fresnillo, Palanca and
Gapilango already occupied their respective areas and
introduced numerous improvements. In addition, Palanca
said that petitioner never filed any homestead application
for the island. Respondents deny that Gabriel
Mandocdoc undertook the inspection and survey of the
island.
"According to Mandocdoc, the island was uninhabited
but the respondents insist that they already had their
respective occupancy and improvements on the island.
Palanca denies that he is a mere overseer of the
petitioner because he said he was acting for himself in
developing his own area and not as anybodys caretaker.
"Respondents aver that they are all bona fide and lawful
possessors of their respective portions and have
declared said portions for taxation purposes and that
they have been faithfully paying taxes thereon for twenty
years.
"Respondents contend that the petitioner has no legal
capacity to sue insofar as the island is concerned
because an action for reconveyance can only be brought
by the owner and not a mere homestead applicant and
that petitioner is guilty of estoppel by laches for his failure
to assert his right over the land for an unreasonable and
unexplained period of time.
"In the instant case, petitioner seeks to nullify the
homestead patents and original certificates of title issued
in favor of the respondents covering certain portions of
the Sombrero Island as well as the reconveyance of the
whole island in his favor. The petitioner claims that he

has the exclusive right to file an application for


homestead patent over the whole island since it was he
who requested for its conversion from forest land to
agricultural land."6
Respondents filed their Answer with Special and/or Affirmative
Defenses and Counterclaim in due time. On June 30, 1999, they
also filed a Motion to Dismiss on the ground of the alleged
defiance by petitioner of the trial courts Order to amend his
Complaint so he could thus effect a substitution by the legal heirs
of the deceased, Respondent Gapilango. The Motion to Dismiss
was granted by the RTC in its Order dated July 29, 1999.
Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration of the July 29, 1999 Order
was denied by the trial court in its Resolution dated December 17,
1999, for being a third and prohibited motion. In his Petition for
Certiorari before the CA, petitioner charged the trial court with
grave abuse of discretion on the ground that the denied Motion
was his first and only Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid
Order.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Instead of limiting itself to the allegation of grave abuse of
discretion, the CA ruled on the merits. It held that while petitioner
had caused the reclassification of Sombrero Island from forest to
agricultural land, he never applied for a homestead patent under
the Public Land Act. Hence, he never acquired title to that land.
The CA added that the annulment and cancellation of a
homestead patent and the reversion of the property to the State
were matters between the latter and the homestead grantee.
Unless and until the government takes steps to annul the grant,
the homesteaders right thereto stands.
Finally, granting arguendo that petitioner had the exclusive right to
apply for a patent to the land in question, he was already barred
by laches for having slept on his right for almost 23 years from the
time Respondent Palancas title had been issued.
In the Assailed Resolution, the CA acknowledged that it had erred
when it ruled on the merits of the case. It agreed with petitioner
that the trial court had acted without jurisdiction in perfunctorily
dismissing his September 10, 1999 Motion for Reconsideration,

on the erroneous ground that it was a third and prohibited motion


when it was actually only his first motion.
Nonetheless, the Complaint was dismissed motu proprio by the
challenged Resolution of the CA Special Division of five members
with two justices dissenting pursuant to its "residual
prerogative" under Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court.
From the allegations of the Complaint, the appellate court opined
that petitioner clearly had no standing to seek reconveyance of
the disputed land, because he neither held title to it nor even
applied for a homestead patent. It reiterated that only the State
could sue for cancellation of the title issued upon a homestead
patent, and for reversion of the land to the public domain.
Finally, it ruled that prescription had already barred the action for
reconveyance. First, petitioners action was brought 24 years after
the issuance of Palancas homestead patent. Under the Public
Land Act, such action should have been taken within ten years
from the issuance of the homestead certificate of title. Second, it
appears from the submission (Annex "F" of the Complaint) of
petitioner himself that Respondents Fresnillo and Palanca had
been occupying six hectares of the island since 1965, or 33 years
before he took legal steps to assert his right to the property. His
action was filed beyond the 30-year prescriptive period under
Articles 1141 and 1137 of the Civil Code.
Hence, this Petition.7
Issues
In his Memorandum, petitioner raises the following issues:
"1. Is the Court of Appeals correct in resolving the
Petition for Certiorari based on an issue not raised (the
merits of the case) in the Petition?
"2. Is the Court of Appeals correct in invoking its alleged
residual prerogative under Section 1, Rule 9 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure in resolving the Petition on an
issue not raised in the Petition?"8
The Courts Ruling

The Petition has no merit.

perfection of an appeal. It follows that such powers are not


possessed by an appellate court.
First Issue:

Propriety of Ruling on the Merits


This is not the first time that petitioner has taken issue with the
propriety of the CAs ruling on the merits. He raised it with the
appellate court when he moved for reconsideration of its
December 8, 2000 Decision. The CA even corrected itself in its
November 20, 2001 Resolution, as follows:
"Upon another review of the case, the Court concedes
that it may indeed have lost its way and been waylaid by
the variety, complexity and seeming importance of the
interests and issues involved in the case below, the
apparent reluctance of the judges, five in all, to hear the
case, and the volume of the conflicting, often confusing,
submissions bearing on incidental matters. We stand
corrected."9
That explanation should have been enough to settle the issue.
The CAs Resolution on this point has rendered petitioners issue
moot. Hence, there is no need to discuss it further. Suffice it to say
that the appellate court indeed acted ultra jurisdictio in ruling on
the merits of the case when the only issue that could have been,
and was in fact, raised was the alleged grave abuse of discretion
committed by the trial court in denying petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration. Settled is the doctrine that the sole office of a
writ of certiorari is the correction of errors of jurisdiction. Such writ
does not include a review of the evidence,10 more so when no
determination of the merits has yet been made by the trial court,
as in this case.
Second Issue:
Dismissal for Prescription and Lack of Jurisdiction
Petitioner next submits that the CA erroneously invoked its
"residual prerogatives" under Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of
Court when it motu proprio dismissed the Petition for lack of
jurisdiction and prescription. According to him, residual
prerogative refers to the power that the trial court, in the exercise
of its original jurisdiction, may still validly exercise even after

Petitioner has confused what the CA adverted to as its "residual


prerogatives" under Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court with
the "residual jurisdiction" of trial courts over cases appealed to the
CA.
Under Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court, defenses and
objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the
answer are deemed waived, except when (1) lack of jurisdiction
over the subject matter, (2) litis pendentia, (3) res judicata and (4)
prescription are evident from the pleadings or the evidence on
record. In the four excepted instances, the court shall motu
proprio dismiss the claim or action. In Gumabon v. Larin11 we
explained thus:
"x x x [T]he motu proprio dismissal of a case was
traditionally limited to instances when the court clearly
had no jurisdiction over the subject matter and when the
plaintiff did not appear during trial, failed to prosecute his
action for an unreasonable length of time or neglected to
comply with the rules or with any order of the court.
Outside of these instances, any motu proprio dismissal
would amount to a violation of the right of the plaintiff to
be heard. Except for qualifying and expanding Section 2,
Rule 9, and Section 3, Rule 17, of the Revised Rules of
Court, the amendatory 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure
brought about no radical change. Under the new rules, a
court may motu proprio dismiss a claim when it appears
from the pleadings or evidence on record that it has no
jurisdiction over the subject matter; when there is another
cause of action pending between the same parties for
the same cause, or where the action is barred by a prior
judgment or by statute of limitations. x x x."12 (Italics
supplied)
On the other hand, "residual jurisdiction" is embodied in Section 9
of Rule 41 of the Rules of Court, as follows:
"SEC. 9. Perfection of appeal; effect thereof. A partys
appeal by notice of appeal is deemed perfected as to him
upon the filing of the notice of appeal in due time.

"A partys appeal by record on appeal is deemed


perfected as to him with respect to the subject matter
thereof upon the approval of the record on appeal filed in
due time.
"In appeals by notice of appeal, the court loses
jurisdiction over the case upon the perfection of the
appeals filed in due time and the expiration of the time to
appeal of the other parties.
"In appeals by record on appeal, the court loses
jurisdiction only over the subject matter thereof upon the
approval of the records on appeal filed in due time and
the expiration of the time to appeal of the other parties.
"In either case, prior to the transmittal of the original
record or the record on appeal, the court may issue
orders for the protection and preservation of the rights of
the parties which do not involve any matter litigated by
the appeal, approve compromises, permit appeals of
indigent litigants, order execution pending appeal in
accordance with Section 2 of Rule 39, and allow
withdrawal of the appeal." (Italics supplied)
The "residual jurisdiction" of trial courts is available at a stage in
which the court is normally deemed to have lost jurisdiction over
the case or the subject matter involved in the appeal. This stage is
reached upon the perfection of the appeals by the parties or upon
the approval of the records on appeal, but prior to the transmittal
of the original records or the records on appeal.13 In either
instance, the trial court still retains its so-called residual
jurisdiction to issue protective orders, approve compromises,
permit appeals of indigent litigants, order execution pending
appeal, and allow the withdrawal of the appeal.
The CAs motu proprio dismissal of petitioners Complaint could
not have been based, therefore, on residual jurisdiction under
Rule 41. Undeniably, such order of dismissal was not one for the
protection and preservation of the rights of the parties, pending
the disposition of the case on appeal. What the CA referred to as
residual prerogatives were the general residual powers of the
courts to dismiss an action motu proprio upon the grounds
mentioned in Section 1 of Rule 9 of the Rules of Court and under
authority of Section 2 of Rule 114 of the same rules.

To be sure, the CA had the excepted instances in mind when it


dismissed the Complaint motu proprio "on more fundamental
grounds directly bearing on the lower courts lack of
jurisdiction"15 and for prescription of the action. Indeed, when a
court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter, the only power it
has is to dismiss the action.16
Jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred by law and is
determined by the allegations in the complaint and the character
of the relief sought.17 In his Complaint for "Nullification of
Applications for Homestead and Original Certificate of Title No. G7089 and for Reconveyance of Title,"18 petitioner averred:
"2. That on November 10, 1965, without the knowledge
of [petitioner, Respondent] Manuel Palanca Jr.,
[petitioners] cousin, in connivance with his co[respondent], Lorenzo Agustin, x x x fraudulently and in
bad faith:
2.1. x x x made the request for authority to
survey as a pre-requisite to the filing of an
application for homestead patent in his name
and that of his Co-[Respondent] Agustin,
[despite being] fully aware that [Petitioner]
KATON had previously applied or requested for
re-classification and certification of the same
land from forest land to agricultural land which
request was favorably acted upon and approved
as mentioned earlier; a clear case of intrinsic
fraud and misrepresentation;
xxx

xxx

xxx

2.3. In stating in his application for homestead


patent that he was applying for the VACANT
PORTION of Sombrero Island where there was
none, the same constituted another clear case
of fraud and misrepresentation;
"3. That the issuance of Homestead Patent No. 145927
and OCT No. G-7089 in the name of [Respondent]
Manuel Palanca Jr. and the filing of Homestead Patent
Applications in the names of [respondents], Lorenzo
Agustin, Jesus Gapilango and Juan Fresnillo[,] having

been done fraudulently and in bad faith, are ipso facto


null and void and of no effect whatsoever."19
xxx

xxx

xxx

"x x x. By a wrongful act or a willful omission and


intending the effects with natural necessity arise knowing
from such act or omission, [Respondent Palanca] on
account of his blood relation, first degree cousins, trust,
interdependence and intimacy is guilty of intrinsic fraud
[sic]. x x x."20
Thereupon, petitioner prayed, among others, for a judgment (1)
nullifying the homestead patent applications of Respondents
Agustin, Fresnillo and Gapilango as well as Homestead Patent
No. 145927 and OCT No. G-7089 in the name of Respondent
Palanca; and (2) ordering the director of the Land Management
Bureau to reconvey the Sombrero Island to petitioner.21
The question is, did the Complaint sufficiently allege an action for
declaration of nullity of the free patent and certificate of title or,
alternatively, for reconveyance? Or did it plead merely for
reversion?
The Complaint did not sufficiently make a case for any of such
actions, over which the trial court could have exercised
jurisdiction.
In an action for nullification of title or declaration of its nullity, the
complaint must contain the following allegations: 1) that the
contested land was privately owned by the plaintiff prior to the
issuance of the assailed certificate of title to the defendant; and 2)
that the defendant perpetuated a fraud or committed a mistake in
obtaining a document of title over the parcel of land claimed by
the plaintiff.22 In these cases, the nullity arises not from fraud or
deceit, but from the fact that the director of the Land Management
Bureau had no jurisdiction to bestow title; hence, the issued
patent or certificate of title was void ab initio.23
In an alternative action for reconveyance, the certificate of title is
also respected as incontrovertible, but the transfer of the property
or title thereto is sought to be nullified on the ground that it was
wrongfully or erroneously registered in the defendants name.24 As
with an annulment of title, a complaint must allege two facts that, if

admitted, would entitle the plaintiff to recover title to the disputed


land: (1) that the plaintiff was the owner of the land, and (2) that
the defendant illegally dispossessed the plaintiff of the
property.25 Therefore, the defendant who acquired the property
through mistake or fraud is bound to hold and reconvey to the
plaintiff the property or the title thereto.26
In the present case, nowhere in the Complaint did petitioner allege
that he had previously held title to the land in question. On the
contrary, he acknowledged that the disputed island was public
land,27 that it had never been privately titled in his name, and that
he had not applied for a homestead under the provisions of the
Public Land Act.28 This Court has held that a complaint by a
private party who alleges that a homestead patent was obtained
by fraudulent means, and who consequently prays for its
annulment, does not state a cause of action; hence, such
complaint must be dismissed.29
Neither can petitioners case be one for reversion. Section 101 of
the Public Land Act categorically declares that only the solicitor
general or the officer in his stead may institute such an action.30 A
private person may not bring an action for reversion or any other
action that would have the effect of canceling a free patent and its
derivative title, with the result that the land thereby covered would
again form part of the public domain.31
Thus, when the plaintiff admits in the complaint that the disputed
land will revert to the public domain even if the title is canceled or
amended, the action is for reversion; and the proper party who
may bring action is the government, to which the property will
revert.32 A mere homestead applicant, not being the real party in
interest, has no cause of action in a suit for reconveyance.33 As it
is, vested rights over the land applied for under a homestead may
be validly claimed only by the applicant, after approval by the
director of the Land Management Bureau of the formers final
proof of homestead patent.34
Consequently, the dismissal of the Complaint is proper not only
because of lack of jurisdiction, but also because of the utter
absence of a cause of action,35 a defense raised by respondents
in their Answer.36 Section 2 of Rule 3 of the Rules of
Court37 ordains that every action must be prosecuted or defended
in the name of the real party in interest, who stands to be
benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit. Indeed, one who

has no right or interest to protect has no cause of action by which


to invoke, as a party-plaintiff, the jurisdiction of the court.38
Finally, assuming that petitioner is the proper party to bring the
action for annulment of title or its reconveyance, the case should
still be dismissed for being time-barred.39 It is not disputed that a
homestead patent and an Original Certificate of Title was issued
to Palanca on February 21, 1977,40 while the Complaint was filed
only on October 6, 1998. Clearly, the suit was brought way past
ten years from the date of the issuance of the Certificate, the
prescriptive period for reconveyance of fraudulently registered real
property.41
It must likewise be stressed that Palancas title -- which attained
the status of indefeasibility one year from the issuance of the
patent and the Certificate of Title in February 1977 -- is no longer
open to review on the ground of actual fraud. Ybanez v.
Intermediate Appellate Court42 ruled that a certificate of title,
issued under an administrative proceeding pursuant to a
homestead patent, is as indefeasible as one issued under a
judicial registration proceeding one year from its issuance;
provided, however, that the land covered by it is disposable public
land, as in this case.

as where no statement thereof is found in the pleadings


(Garcia v. Mathis, 100 SCRA 250; PNB v. Pacific
Commission House, 27 SCRA 766; Chua Lamco v.
Dioso, et al., 97 Phil. 821); or where a defendant has
been declared in default (PNB v. Perez, 16 SCRA 270).
What is essential only, to repeat, is that the facts
demonstrating the lapse of the prescriptive period be
otherwise sufficiently and satisfactorily apparent on the
record; either in the averments of the plaintiff's complaint,
or otherwise established by the evidence."45 (Italics
supplied)
Clearly then, the CA did not err in dismissing the present case.
After all, if and when they are able to do so, courts must endeavor
to settle entire controversies before them to prevent future
litigations.46
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED, and the assailed
Resolution AFFIRMED. The dismissal of the Complaint in Civil
Case No. 3231 is SUSTAINED on the grounds of lack of
jurisdiction, failure to state a cause of action and prescription.
Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.

In Aldovino v. Alunan,43 the Court has held that when the plaintiffs
own complaint shows clearly that the action has prescribed, such
action may be dismissed even if the defense of prescription has
not been invoked by the defendant. In Gicano v. Gegato,44 we also
explained thus:
"x x x [T]rial courts have authority and discretion to
dismiss an action on the ground of prescription when the
parties' pleadings or other facts on record show it to be
indeed time-barred; (Francisco v. Robles, Feb. 15, 1954;
Sison v. McQuaid, 50 O.G. 97; Bambao v. Lednicky, Jan.
28, 1961; Cordova v. Cordova, Jan. 14, 1958; Convets,
Inc. v. NDC, Feb. 28, 1958; 32 SCRA 529; Sinaon v.
Sorongan, 136 SCRA 408); and it may do so on the
basis of a motion to dismiss (Sec. 1,f, Rule 16, Rules of
Court), or an answer which sets up such ground as an
affirmative defense (Sec. 5, Rule 16), or even if the
ground is alleged after judgment on the merits, as in a
motion for reconsideration (Ferrer v. Ericta, 84 SCRA
705); or even if the defense has not been asserted at all,

Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Carpio Morales*, JJ., concur.


G.R. No. 147406

July 14, 2008

VENANCIO FIGUEROA y CERVANTES,1 Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
DECISION
NACHURA, J.:
When is a litigant estopped by laches from assailing the
jurisdiction of a tribunal? This is the paramount issue raised in this
petition for review of the February 28, 2001 Decision2 of the Court
of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 22697.
Pertinent are the following antecedent facts and proceedings:

On July 8, 1994, an information3 for reckless imprudence resulting


in homicide was filed against the petitioner before the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Bulacan, Branch 18.4 The case was docketed
as Criminal Case No. 2235-M-94.5 Trial on the merits ensued and
on August 19, 1998, the trial court convicted the petitioner as
charged.6 In his appeal before the CA, the petitioner questioned,
among others, for the first time, the trial courts jurisdiction.7
The appellate court, however, in the challenged decision,
considered the petitioner to have actively participated in the trial
and to have belatedly attacked the jurisdiction of the RTC; thus,
he was already estopped by laches from asserting the trial courts
lack of jurisdiction. Finding no other ground to reverse the trial
courts decision, the CA affirmed the petitioners conviction but
modified the penalty imposed and the damages awarded.8
Dissatisfied, the petitioner filed the instant petition for review on
certiorari raising the following issues for our resolution:
a. Does the fact that the petitioner failed to raise the
issue of jurisdiction during the trial of this case, which
was initiated and filed by the public prosecutor before the
wrong court, constitute laches in relation to the doctrine
laid down in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, notwithstanding the
fact that said issue was immediately raised in petitioners
appeal to the Honorable Court of Appeals? Conversely,
does the active participation of the petitioner in the trial of
his case, which is initiated and filed not by him but by the
public prosecutor, amount to estoppel?
b. Does the admission of the petitioner that it is difficult
to immediately stop a bus while it is running at 40
kilometers per hour for the purpose of avoiding a person
who unexpectedly crossed the road, constitute enough
incriminating evidence to warrant his conviction for the
crime charged?
c. Is the Honorable Court of Appeals justified in
considering the place of accident as falling within Item 4
of Section 35 (b) of the Land Transportation and Traffic
Code, and subsequently ruling that the speed limit
thereto is only 20 kilometers per hour, when no evidence
whatsoever to that effect was ever presented by the
prosecution during the trial of this case?

d. Is the Honorable Court of Appeals justified in


convicting the petitioner for homicide through reckless
imprudence (the legally correct designation is "reckless
imprudence resulting to homicide") with violation of the
Land Transportation and Traffic Code when the
prosecution did not prove this during the trial and, more
importantly, the information filed against the petitioner
does not contain an allegation to that effect?
e. Does the uncontroverted testimony of the defense
witness Leonardo Hernal that the victim unexpectedly
crossed the road resulting in him getting hit by the bus
driven by the petitioner not enough evidence to acquit
him of the crime charged?9
Applied uniformly is the familiar rule that the jurisdiction of the
court to hear and decide a case is conferred by the law in force at
the time of the institution of the action, unless such statute
provides for a retroactive application thereof.10 In this case, at the
time the criminal information for reckless imprudence resulting in
homicide with violation of the Automobile Law (now Land
Transportation and Traffic Code) was filed, Section 32(2) of Batas
Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 12911 had already been amended by
Republic Act No. 7691.12 The said provision thus reads:
Sec. 32. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial
Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Criminal Cases.
Except in cases falling within the exclusive original jurisdiction of
Regional Trial Courts and the Sandiganbayan, the Metropolitan
Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts shall exercise:
xxxx
(2) Exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses punishable with
imprisonment not exceeding six (6) years irrespective of the
amount of fine, and regardless of other imposable accessory or
other penalties, including the civil liability arising from such
offenses or predicated thereon, irrespective of kind, nature, value
or amount thereof: Provided, however, That in offenses involving
damage to property through criminal negligence, they shall have
exclusive original jurisdiction thereof.

As the imposable penalty for the crime charged herein is prision


correccional in its medium and maximum periods or imprisonment
for 2 years, 4 months and 1 day to 6 years,13 jurisdiction to hear
and try the same is conferred on the Municipal Trial Courts
(MTCs). Clearly, therefore, the RTC of Bulacan does not have
jurisdiction over Criminal Case No. 2235-M-94.
While both the appellate court and the Solicitor General
acknowledge this fact, they nevertheless are of the position that
the principle of estoppel by laches has already precluded the
petitioner from questioning the jurisdiction of the RTCthe trial
went on for 4 years with the petitioner actively participating therein
and without him ever raising the jurisdictional infirmity. The
petitioner, for his part, counters that the lack of jurisdiction of a
court over the subject matter may be raised at any time even for
the first time on appeal. As undue delay is further absent herein,
the principle of laches will not be applicable.
To settle once and for all this problem of jurisdiction vis--vis
estoppel by laches, which continuously confounds the bench and
the bar, we shall analyze the various Court decisions on the
matter.
As early as 1901, this Court has declared that unless jurisdiction
has been conferred by some legislative act, no court or tribunal
can act on a matter submitted to it.14 We went on to state in U.S. v.
De La Santa15 that:
It has been frequently held that a lack of jurisdiction over the
subject-matter is fatal, and subject to objection at any stage of the
proceedings, either in the court below or on appeal (Ency. of Pl. &
Pr., vol. 12, p. 189, and large array of cases there cited), and
indeed, where the subject-matter is not within the jurisdiction, the
court may dismiss the proceeding ex mero motu. (4 Ill., 133; 190
Ind., 79; Chipman vs. Waterbury, 59 Conn., 496.)
Jurisdiction over the subject-matter in a judicial proceeding is
conferred by the sovereign authority which organizes the court; it
is given only by law and in the manner prescribed by law and an
objection based on the lack of such jurisdiction can not be waived
by the parties. x x x16
Later, in People v. Casiano,17 the Court explained:

4. The operation of the principle of estoppel on the question of


jurisdiction seemingly depends upon whether the lower court
actually had jurisdiction or not. If it had no jurisdiction, but the
case was tried and decided upon the theory that it had jurisdiction,
the parties are not barred, on appeal, from assailing such
jurisdiction, for the same "must exist as a matter of law, and may
not be conferred by consent of the parties or by estoppel" (5
C.J.S., 861-863). However, if the lower court had jurisdiction, and
the case was heard and decided upon a given theory, such, for
instance, as that the court had no jurisdiction, the party who
induced it to adopt such theory will not be permitted, on appeal, to
assume an inconsistent positionthat the lower court had
jurisdiction. Here, the principle of estoppel applies. The rule that
jurisdiction is conferred by law, and does not depend upon the will
of the parties, has no bearing thereon. Thus, Corpus Juris
Secundum says:
Where accused has secured a decision that the indictment is void,
or has been granted an instruction based on its defective
character directing the jury to acquit, he is estopped, when
subsequently indicted, to assert that the former indictment was
valid. In such case, there may be a new prosecution whether the
indictment in the former prosecution was good or bad. Similarly,
where, after the jury was impaneled and sworn, the court on
accused's motion quashed the information on the erroneous
assumption that the court had no jurisdiction, accused cannot
successfully plead former jeopardy to a new information. x x x (22
C.J.S., sec. 252, pp. 388-389; italics ours.)
Where accused procured a prior conviction to be set aside on the
ground that the court was without jurisdiction, he is estopped
subsequently to assert, in support of a defense of previous
jeopardy, that such court had jurisdiction." (22 C.J.S. p. 378.)18
But in Pindagan Agricultural Co., Inc. v. Dans,19 the Court, in not
sustaining the plea of lack of jurisdiction by the plaintiff-appellee
therein, made the following observations:
It is surprising why it is only now, after the decision has been
rendered, that the plaintiff-appellee presents the question of this
Courts jurisdiction over the case. Republic Act No. 2613 was
enacted on August 1, 1959. This case was argued on January 29,
1960. Notwithstanding this fact, the jurisdiction of this Court was
never impugned until the adverse decision of this Court was

handed down. The conduct of counsel leads us to believe that


they must have always been of the belief that notwithstanding said
enactment of Republic Act 2613 this Court has jurisdiction of the
case, such conduct being born out of a conviction that the actual
real value of the properties in question actually exceeds the
jurisdictional amount of this Court (over P200,000). Our minute
resolution in G.R. No. L-10096, Hyson Tan, et al. vs. Filipinas
Compaa de Seguros, et al., of March 23, 1956, a parallel case, is
applicable to the conduct of plaintiff-appellee in this case, thus:
x x x that an appellant who files his brief and submits his case to
the Court of Appeals for decision, without questioning the latters
jurisdiction until decision is rendered therein, should be
considered as having voluntarily waived so much of his claim as
would exceed the jurisdiction of said Appellate Court; for the
reason that a contrary rule would encourage the undesirable
practice of appellants submitting their cases for decision to the
Court of Appeals in expectation of favorable judgment, but with
intent of attacking its jurisdiction should the decision be
unfavorable: x x x20
Then came our ruling in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy21 that a party may
be barred by laches from invoking lack of jurisdiction at a late hour
for the purpose of annulling everything done in the case with the
active participation of said party invoking the plea. We expounded,
thus:
A party may be estopped or barred from raising a question in
different ways and for different reasons. Thus, we speak of
estoppel in pais, of estoppel by deed or by record, and of estoppel
by laches.
Laches, in a general sense, is failure or neglect, for an
unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by
exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier;
it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable
time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it
either has abandoned it or declined to assert it.
The doctrine of laches or of "stale demands" is based upon
grounds of public policy which requires, for the peace of society,
the discouragement of stale claims and, unlike the statute of
limitations, is not a mere question of time but is principally a

question of the inequity or unfairness of permitting a right or claim


to be enforced or asserted.
It has been held that a party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a
court to secure affirmative relief against his opponent and, after
obtaining or failing to obtain such relief, repudiate or question that
same jurisdiction (Dean vs. Dean, 136 Or. 694, 86 A.L.R. 79). In
the case just cited, by way of explaining the rule, it was further
said that the question whether the court had jurisdiction either of
the subject matter of the action or of the parties was not important
in such cases because the party is barred from such conduct not
because the judgment or order of the court is valid and conclusive
as an adjudication, but for the reason that such a practice cannot
be toleratedobviously for reasons of public policy.
Furthermore, it has also been held that after voluntarily submitting
a cause and encountering an adverse decision on the merits, it is
too late for the loser to question the jurisdiction or power of the
court (Pease vs. Rathbun-Jones etc., 243 U.S. 273, 61 L. Ed. 715,
37 S.Ct. 283; St. Louis etc. vs. McBride, 141 U.S. 127, 35 L. Ed.
659). And in Littleton vs. Burgess, 16 Wyo. 58, the Court said that
it is not right for a party who has affirmed and invoked the
jurisdiction of a court in a particular matter to secure an affirmative
relief, to afterwards deny that same jurisdiction to escape a
penalty.
Upon this same principle is what We said in the three cases
mentioned in the resolution of the Court of Appeals of May 20,
1963 (supra)to the effect that we frown upon the "undesirable
practice" of a party submitting his case for decision and then
accepting the judgment, only if favorable, and attacking it for lack
of jurisdiction, when adverseas well as in Pindagan etc. vs.
Dans et al., G.R. L-14591, September 26, 1962; Montelibano et
al. vs. Bacolod-Murcia Milling Co., Inc., G.R. L-15092; Young Men
Labor Union etc. vs. The Court of Industrial Relations et al., G.R.
L-20307, Feb. 26, 1965, and Mejia vs. Lucas, 100 Phil. p. 277.
The facts of this case show that from the time the Surety became
a quasi-party on July 31, 1948, it could have raised the question
of the lack of jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance of Cebu to
take cognizance of the present action by reason of the sum of
money involved which, according to the law then in force, was
within the original exclusive jurisdiction of inferior courts. It failed
to do so. Instead, at several stages of the proceedings in the court

a quo, as well as in the Court of Appeals, it invoked the jurisdiction


of said courts to obtain affirmative relief and submitted its case for
a final adjudication on the merits. It was only after an adverse
decision was rendered by the Court of Appeals that it finally woke
up to raise the question of jurisdiction. Were we to sanction such
conduct on its part, We would in effect be declaring as useless all
the proceedings had in the present case since it was commenced
on July 19, 1948 and compel the judgment creditors to go up their
Calvary once more. The inequity and unfairness of this is not only
patent but revolting.22
For quite a time since we made this pronouncement in
Sibonghanoy, courts and tribunals, in resolving issues that involve
the belated invocation of lack of jurisdiction, have applied the
principle of estoppel by laches. Thus, in Calimlim v. Ramirez,23 we
pointed out that Sibonghanoy was developing into a general rule
rather than the exception:
A rule that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and
upheld in decisions so numerous to cite is that the jurisdiction of a
court over the subject-matter of the action is a matter of law and
may not be conferred by consent or agreement of the parties. The
lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of the
proceedings, even on appeal. This doctrine has been qualified by
recent pronouncements which stemmed principally from the ruling
in the cited case of Sibonghanoy. It is to be regretted, however,
that the holding in said case had been applied to situations which
were obviously not contemplated therein. The exceptional
circumstance involved in Sibonghanoy which justified the
departure from the accepted concept of non-waivability of
objection to jurisdiction has been ignored and, instead a blanket
doctrine had been repeatedly upheld that rendered the supposed
ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception, but rather the general
rule, virtually overthrowing altogether the time-honored principle
that the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel.
In Sibonghanoy, the defense of lack of jurisdiction of the court that
rendered the questioned ruling was held to be barred by estoppel
by laches. It was ruled that the lack of jurisdiction having been
raised for the first time in a motion to dismiss filed almost fifteen
(15) years after the questioned ruling had been rendered, such a
plea may no longer be raised for being barred by laches. As
defined in said case, laches is "failure or neglect, for an
unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by

exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier;


it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable
time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert has
abandoned it or declined to assert it.24
In Calimlim, despite the fact that the one who benefited from the
plea of lack of jurisdiction was the one who invoked the courts
jurisdiction, and who later obtained an adverse judgment therein,
we refused to apply the ruling in Sibonghanoy. The Court
accorded supremacy to the time-honored principle that the issue
of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel.
Yet, in subsequent cases decided after Calimlim, which by sheer
volume are too plentiful to mention, the Sibonghanoy doctrine, as
foretold in Calimlim, became the rule rather than the exception. As
such, in Soliven v. Fastforms Philippines, Inc.,25 the Court ruled:
While it is true that jurisdiction may be raised at any time, "this
rule presupposes that estoppel has not supervened." In the
instant case, respondent actively participated in all stages of the
proceedings before the trial court and invoked its authority by
asking for an affirmative relief. Clearly, respondent is estopped
from challenging the trial courts jurisdiction, especially when an
adverse judgment has been rendered. In PNOC Shipping and
Transport Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, we held:
Moreover, we note that petitioner did not question at all the
jurisdiction of the lower court x x x in its answers to both the
amended complaint and the second amended complaint. It did so
only in its motion for reconsideration of the decision of the lower
court after it had received an adverse decision. As this Court held
in Pantranco North Express, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No.
105180, July 5, 1993, 224 SCRA 477, 491), participation in all
stages of the case before the trial court, that included invoking its
authority in asking for affirmative relief, effectively barred
petitioner by estoppel from challenging the courts jurisdiction.
Notably, from the time it filed its answer to the second amended
complaint on April 16, 1985, petitioner did not question the lower
courts jurisdiction. It was only on December 29, 1989 when it filed
its motion for reconsideration of the lower courts decision that
petitioner raised the question of the lower courts lack of
jurisdiction. Petitioner thus foreclosed its right to raise the issue of
jurisdiction by its own inaction. (italics ours)

Similarly, in the subsequent case of Sta. Lucia Realty and


Development, Inc. vs. Cabrigas, we ruled:

Metromedia, thus, was not estopped from assailing the jurisdiction


of the labor arbiter before the NLRC on appeal.281avvphi1

In the case at bar, it was found by the trial court in its 30


September 1996 decision in LCR Case No. Q-60161(93) that
private respondents (who filed the petition for reconstitution of
titles) failed to comply with both sections 12 and 13 of RA 26 and
therefore, it had no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case.
However, private respondents never questioned the trial courts
jurisdiction over its petition for reconstitution throughout the
duration of LCR Case No. Q-60161(93). On the contrary, private
respondents actively participated in the reconstitution proceedings
by filing pleadings and presenting its evidence. They invoked the
trial courts jurisdiction in order to obtain affirmative relief the
reconstitution of their titles. Private respondents have thus
foreclosed their right to raise the issue of jurisdiction by their own
actions.

Later, in Francel Realty Corporation v. Sycip,29 the Court clarified


that:

The Court has constantly upheld the doctrine that while


jurisdiction may be assailed at any stage, a litigants participation
in all stages of the case before the trial court, including the
invocation of its authority in asking for affirmative relief, bars such
party from challenging the courts jurisdiction (PNOC Shipping and
Transport Corporation vs. Court of Appeals, 297 SCRA 402
[1998]). A party cannot invoke the jurisdiction of a court to secure
affirmative relief against his opponent and after obtaining or failing
to obtain such relief, repudiate or question that same jurisdiction
(Asset Privatization Trust vs. Court of Appeals, 300 SCRA 579
[1998]; Province of Bulacan vs. Court of Appeals, 299 SCRA 442
[1998]). The Court frowns upon the undesirable practice of a party
participating in the proceedings and submitting his case for
decision and then accepting judgment, only if favorable, and
attacking it for lack of jurisdiction, when adverse (Producers Bank
of the Philippines vs. NLRC, 298 SCRA 517 [1998], citing Ilocos
Sur Electric Cooperative, Inc. vs. NLRC, 241 SCRA 36 [1995]).
(italics ours)26
Noteworthy, however, is that, in the 2005 case of Metromedia
Times Corporation v. Pastorin,27 where the issue of lack of
jurisdiction was raised only in the National Labor Relations
Commission (NLRC) on appeal, we stated, after examining the
doctrines of jurisdiction vis--vis estoppel, that the ruling in
Sibonghanoy stands as an exception, rather than the general rule.

Petitioner argues that the CAs affirmation of the trial courts


dismissal of its case was erroneous, considering that a full-blown
trial had already been conducted. In effect, it contends that lack of
jurisdiction could no longer be used as a ground for dismissal after
trial had ensued and ended.
The above argument is anchored on estoppel by laches, which
has been used quite successfully in a number of cases to thwart
dismissals based on lack of jurisdiction. Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, in
which this doctrine was espoused, held that a party may be barred
from questioning a courts jurisdiction after being invoked to
secure affirmative relief against its opponent. In fine, laches
prevents the issue of lack of jurisdiction from being raised for the
first time on appeal by a litigant whose purpose is to annul
everything done in a trial in which it has actively participated.
Laches is defined as the "failure or neglect for an unreasonable
and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising
due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is
negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time,
warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either
has abandoned it or declined to assert it."
The ruling in Sibonghanoy on the matter of jurisdiction is,
however, the exception rather than the rule.1avvphi1 Estoppel by
laches may be invoked to bar the issue of lack of jurisdiction only
in cases in which the factual milieu is analogous to that in the
cited case. In such controversies, laches should be clearly
present; that is, lack of jurisdiction must have been raised so
belatedly as to warrant the presumption that the party entitled to
assert it had abandoned or declined to assert it. That
Sibonghanoy applies only to exceptional circumstances is clarified
in Calimlim v. Ramirez, which we quote:
A rule that had been settled by unquestioned acceptance and
upheld in decisions so numerous to cite is that the jurisdiction of a
court over the subject-matter of the action is a matter of law and
may not be conferred by consent or agreement of the parties. The

lack of jurisdiction of a court may be raised at any stage of the


proceedings, even on appeal. This doctrine has been qualified by
recent pronouncements which stemmed principally from the ruling
in the cited case of Sibonghanoy. It is to be regretted, however,
that the holding in said case had been applied to situations which
were obviously not contemplated therein. The exceptional
circumstance involved in Sibonghanoy which justified the
departure from the accepted concept of non-waivability of
objection to jurisdiction has been ignored and, instead a blanket
doctrine had been repeatedly upheld that rendered the supposed
ruling in Sibonghanoy not as the exception, but rather the general
rule, virtually overthrowing altogether the time-honored principle
that the issue of jurisdiction is not lost by waiver or by estoppel.
Indeed, the general rule remains: a courts lack of jurisdiction may
be raised at any stage of the proceedings, even on appeal. The
reason is that jurisdiction is conferred by law, and lack of it affects
the very authority of the court to take cognizance of and to render
judgment on the action. Moreover, jurisdiction is determined by
the averments of the complaint, not by the defenses contained in
the answer.30
Also, in Mangaliag v. Catubig-Pastoral,31 even if the pleader of
lack of jurisdiction actively took part in the trial proceedings by
presenting a witness to seek exoneration, the Court, reiterating
the doctrine in Calimlim, said:
Private respondent argues that the defense of lack of jurisdiction
may be waived by estoppel through active participation in the trial.
Such, however, is not the general rule but an exception, best
characterized by the peculiar circumstances in Tijam vs.
Sibonghanoy. In Sibonghanoy, the party invoking lack of
jurisdiction did so only after fifteen years and at a stage when the
proceedings had already been elevated to the CA. Sibonghanoyis
an exceptional case because of the presence of laches, which
was defined therein as failure or neglect for an unreasonable and
unexplained length of time to do that which, by exercising due
diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is the
negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time,
warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert has
abandoned it or declined to assert it.32

And in the more recent Regalado v. Go,33 the Court again


emphasized that laches should be clearly present for the
Sibonghanoy doctrine to be applicable, thus:
Laches is defined as the "failure or neglect for an unreasonable
and unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising
due diligence, could or should have been done earlier, it is
negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable length
of time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it
either has abandoned it or declined to assert it."
The ruling in People v. Regalario that was based on the landmark
doctrine enunciated in Tijam v. Sibonghanoy on the matter of
jurisdiction by estoppel is the exception rather than the
rule. Estoppel by laches may be invoked to bar the issue of lack of
jurisdiction only in cases in which the factual milieu is analogous
to that in the cited case. In such controversies, laches should
have been clearly present; that is, lack of jurisdiction must have
been raised so belatedly as to warrant the presumption that the
party entitled to assert it had abandoned or declined to assert it.
In Sibonghanoy, the defense of lack of jurisdiction was raised for
the first time in a motion to dismiss filed by the Surety almost 15
years after the questioned ruling had been rendered. At several
stages of the proceedings, in the court a quo as well as in the
Court of Appeals, the Surety invoked the jurisdiction of the said
courts to obtain affirmative relief and submitted its case for final
adjudication on the merits. It was only when the adverse decision
was rendered by the Court of Appeals that it finally woke up to
raise the question of jurisdiction.
Clearly, the factual settings attendant in Sibonghanoy are not
present in the case at bar. Petitioner Atty. Regalado, after the
receipt of the Court of Appeals resolution finding her guilty of
contempt, promptly filed a Motion for Reconsideration assailing
the said courts jurisdiction based on procedural infirmity in
initiating the action. Her compliance with the appellate courts
directive to show cause why she should not be cited for contempt
and filing a single piece of pleading to that effect could not be
considered as an active participation in the judicial proceedings so
as to take the case within the milieu of Sibonghanoy. Rather, it is
the natural fear to disobey the mandate of the court that could
lead to dire consequences that impelled her to comply.34

The Court, thus, wavered on when to apply the exceptional


circumstance in Sibonghanoy and on when to apply the general
rule enunciated as early as in De La Santa and expounded at
length in Calimlim. The general rule should, however, be, as it has
always been, that the issue of jurisdiction may be raised at any
stage of the proceedings, even on appeal, and is not lost by
waiver or by estoppel. Estoppel by laches, to bar a litigant from
asserting the courts absence or lack of jurisdiction, only
supervenes in exceptional cases similar to the factual milieu of
Tijam v. Sibonghanoy. Indeed, the fact that a person attempts to
invoke unauthorized jurisdiction of a court does not estop him
from thereafter challenging its jurisdiction over the subject matter,
since such jurisdiction must arise by law and not by mere consent
of the parties. This is especially true where the person seeking to
invoke unauthorized jurisdiction of the court does not thereby
secure any advantage or the adverse party does not suffer any
harm.35
Applying the said doctrine to the instant case, the petitioner is in
no way estopped by laches in assailing the jurisdiction of the RTC,
considering that he raised the lack thereof in his appeal before the
appellate court. At that time, no considerable period had yet
elapsed for laches to attach. True, delay alone, though
unreasonable, will not sustain the defense of "estoppel by laches"
unless it further appears that the party, knowing his rights, has not
sought to enforce them until the condition of the party pleading
laches has in good faith become so changed that he cannot be
restored to his former state, if the rights be then enforced, due to
loss of evidence, change of title, intervention of equities, and other
causes.36 In applying the principle of estoppel by laches in the
exceptional case of Sibonghanoy, the Court therein considered
the patent and revolting inequity and unfairness of having the
judgment creditors go up their Calvary once more after more or
less 15 years.37 The same, however, does not obtain in the instant
case.
We note at this point that estoppel, being in the nature of a
forfeiture, is not favored by law. It is to be applied rarelyonly
from necessity, and only in extraordinary circumstances. The
doctrine must be applied with great care and the equity must be
strong in its favor.38 When misapplied, the doctrine of estoppel
may be a most effective weapon for the accomplishment of
injustice.39 Moreover, a judgment rendered without jurisdiction
over the subject matter is void.40 Hence, the Revised Rules of
Court provides for remedies in attacking judgments rendered by

courts or tribunals that have no jurisdiction over the concerned


cases. No laches will even attach when the judgment is null and
void for want of jurisdiction.41 As we have stated in Heirs of Julian
Dela Cruz and Leonora Talaro v. Heirs of Alberto Cruz,42
It is axiomatic that the jurisdiction of a tribunal, including a quasijudicial officer or government agency, over the nature and subject
matter of a petition or complaint is determined by the material
allegations therein and the character of the relief prayed for,
irrespective of whether the petitioner or complainant is entitled to
any or all such reliefs. Jurisdiction over the nature and subject
matter of an action is conferred by the Constitution and the law,
and not by the consent or waiver of the parties where the court
otherwise would have no jurisdiction over the nature or subject
matter of the action. Nor can it be acquired through, or waived by,
any act or omission of the parties. Moreover, estoppel does not
apply to confer jurisdiction to a tribunal that has none over the
cause of action. x x x
Indeed, the jurisdiction of the court or tribunal is not affected by
the defenses or theories set up by the defendant or respondent in
his answer or motion to dismiss. Jurisdiction should be
determined by considering not only the status or the relationship
of the parties but also the nature of the issues or questions that is
the subject of the controversy. x x x x The proceedings before a
court or tribunal without jurisdiction, including its decision, are null
and void, hence, susceptible to direct and collateral attacks.43
With the above considerations, we find it unnecessary to resolve
the other issues raised in the petition.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for review on
certiorari is GRANTED. Criminal Case No. 2235-M-94 is hereby
DISMISSED without prejudice.
SO ORDERED.
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

G.R. No. 162059

January 22, 2008

HANNAH EUNICE D. SERANA, petitioner,


vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN and PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents.
DECISION
REYES, R.T., J.:
CAN the Sandiganbayan try a government scholaran** accused,
along with her brother, of swindling government funds?
MAAARI bang litisin ng Sandiganbayan ang isang iskolar ng
bayan, at ang kanyang kapatid, na kapwa pinararatangan
ng estafa ng pera ng bayan?
The jurisdictional question is posed in this petition for certiorari
assailing the Resolutions1 of the Sandiganbayan, Fifth Division,
denying petitioners motion to quash the information and her
motion for reconsideration.
The Antecedents
Petitioner Hannah Eunice D. Serana was a senior student of the
University of the Philippines-Cebu. A student of a state university
is known as a government scholar. She was appointed by then
President Joseph Estrada on December 21, 1999 as a student
regent of UP, to serve a one-year term starting January 1, 2000
and ending on December 31, 2000.
In the early part of 2000, petitioner discussed with President
Estrada the renovation of Vinzons Hall Annex in UP Diliman.2 On
September 4, 2000, petitioner, with her siblings and relatives,
registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission the
Office of the Student Regent Foundation, Inc. (OSRFI).3
One of the projects of the OSRFI was the renovation of the
Vinzons Hall Annex.4 President Estrada gave Fifteen Million
Pesos (P15,000,000.00) to the OSRFI as financial assistance for
the proposed renovation. The source of the funds, according to
the information, was the Office of the President.

The renovation of Vinzons Hall Annex failed to materialize.5 The


succeeding student regent, Kristine Clare Bugayong, and
Christine Jill De Guzman, Secretary General of the KASAMA sa
U.P., a system-wide alliance of student councils within the state
university, consequently filed a complaint for Malversation of
Public Funds and Property with the Office of the Ombudsman.6

D. Serana on October 25, 2000 and misappropriated for


their personal use and benefit, and despite repeated
demands made upon the accused for them to return
aforesaid amount, the said accused failed and refused to
do so to the damage and prejudice of the government in
the aforesaid amount.

On July 3, 2003, the Ombudsman, after due investigation, found


probable cause to indict petitioner and her brother Jade Ian D.
Serana for estafa, docketed as Criminal Case No. 27819 of the
Sandiganbayan.7 The Information reads:

CONTRARY TO LAW. (Underscoring supplied)

The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer III, Office of


the Special Prosecutor, hereby accuses HANNAH
EUNICE D. SERANA and JADE IAN D. SERANA of the
crime of Estafa, defined and penalized under Paragraph
2(a), Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended
committed as follows:
That on October, 24, 2000, or sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in Quezon City, Metro Manila,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, above-named accused, HANNAH EUNICE D.
SERANA, a high-ranking public officer, being then the
Student Regent of the University of the Philippines,
Diliman, Quezon City, while in the performance of her
official functions, committing the offense in relation to her
office and taking advantage of her position, with intent to
gain, conspiring with her brother, JADE IAN D. SERANA,
a private individual, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully
and feloniously defraud the government by falsely and
fraudulently representing to former President Joseph
Ejercito Estrada that the renovation of the Vinzons Hall of
the University of the Philippines will be renovated and
renamed as "President Joseph Ejercito Estrada Student
Hall," and for which purpose accused HANNAH EUNICE
D. SERANA requested the amount of FIFTEEN MILLION
PESOS (P15,000,000.00), Philippine Currency, from the
Office of the President, and the latter relying and
believing on said false pretenses and misrepresentation
gave and delivered to said accused Land Bank Check
No. 91353 dated October 24, 2000 in the amount of
FIFTEEN MILLION PESOS (P15,000,000.00), which
check was subsequently encashed by accused Jade Ian

Petitioner moved to quash the information. She claimed that the


Sandiganbayan does not have any jurisdiction over the offense
charged or over her person, in her capacity as UP student regent.
Petitioner claimed that Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019, as amended
by R.A. No. 8249, enumerates the crimes or offenses over which
the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction.8 It has no jurisdiction over the
crime of estafa.9 It only has jurisdiction over crimes covered by
Title VII, Chapter II, Section 2 (Crimes Committed by Public
Officers), Book II of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). Estafa falling
under Title X, Chapter VI (Crimes Against Property), Book II of the
RPC is not within the Sandiganbayans jurisdiction.
She also argued that it was President Estrada, not the
government, that was duped. Even assuming that she received
the P15,000,000.00, that amount came from Estrada, not from the
coffers of the government.10
Petitioner likewise posited that the Sandiganbayan had no
jurisdiction over her person. As a student regent, she was not a
public officer since she merely represented her peers, in contrast
to the other regents who held their positions in an ex
officio capacity. She addsed that she was a simple student and
did not receive any salary as a student regent.
She further contended that she had no power or authority to
receive monies or funds. Such power was vested with the Board
of Regents (BOR) as a whole. Since it was not alleged in the
information that it was among her functions or duties to receive
funds, or that the crime was committed in connection with her
official functions, the same is beyond the jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan citing the case of Soller v. Sandiganbayan.11
The Ombudsman opposed the motion.12 It disputed petitioners
interpretation of the law. Section 4(b) of Presidential Decree (P.D.)

No. 1606 clearly contains the catch -all phrase "in relation to
office," thus, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the charges
against petitioner. In the same breath, the prosecution countered
that the source of the money is a matter of defense. It should be
threshed out during a full-blown trial.13
According to the Ombudsman, petitioner, despite her
protestations, iwas a public officer. As a member of the BOR, she
hads the general powers of administration and exerciseds the
corporate powers of UP. Based on Mechems definition of a public
office, petitioners stance that she was not compensated, hence,
not a public officer, is erroneous. Compensation is not an
essential part of public office. Parenthetically, compensation has
been interpreted to include allowances. By this definition,
petitioner was compensated.14
Sandiganbayan Disposition
In a Resolution dated November 14, 2003, the Sandiganbayan
denied petitioners motion for lack of merit.15 It ratiocinated:
The focal point in controversy is the jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan over this case.
It is extremely erroneous to hold that only criminal
offenses covered by Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book
II of the Revised Penal Code are within the jurisdiction of
this Court. As correctly pointed out by the prosecution,
Section 4(b) of R.A. 8249 provides that the
Sandiganbayan also has jurisdiction over other offenses
committed by public officials and employees in relation to
their office. From this provision, there is no single doubt
that this Court has jurisdiction over the offense
of estafa committed by a public official in relation to his
office.
Accused-movants claim that being merely a member in
representation of the student body, she was never a
public officer since she never received any compensation
nor does she fall under Salary Grade 27, is of no
moment, in view of the express provision of Section 4 of
Republic Act No. 8249 which provides:

Sec. 4. Jurisdiction The Sandiganbayan shall exercise


exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving:
(A) x x x

leave of absence under such regulations as it may


promulgate, any other provisions of law to the contrary
notwithstanding, and to remove them for cause after an
investigation and hearing shall have been had.

(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the


positions of regional director and higher, otherwise
classified as Grade "27" and higher, of the Compensation
and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No.
6758), specifically including:

It is well-established in corporation law that the


corporation can act only through its board of directors, or
board of trustees in the case of non-stock corporations.
The board of directors or trustees, therefore, is the
governing body of the corporation.

xxxx

It is unmistakably evident that the Board of Regents of


the University of the Philippines is performing functions
similar to those of the Board of Trustees of a non-stock
corporation. This draws to fore the conclusion that being
a member of such board, accused-movant undoubtedly
falls within the category of public officials upon whom this
Court is vested with original exclusive jurisdiction,
regardless of the fact that she does not occupy a position
classified as Salary Grade 27 or higher under the
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.

(g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of


government-owned or controlled corporations, state
universities or educational institutions or foundations.
(Italics supplied)
It is very clear from the aforequoted provision that the
Sandiganbayan has original exclusive jurisdiction over all
offenses involving the officials enumerated in subsection
(g), irrespective of their salary grades, because the
primordial consideration in the inclusion of these officials
is the nature of their responsibilities and functions.
Is accused-movant included in the contemplated
provision of law?
A meticulous review of the existing Charter of the
University of the Philippines reveals that the Board of
Regents, to which accused-movant belongs, exclusively
exercises the general powers of administration and
corporate powers in the university, such as: 1) To receive
and appropriate to the ends specified by law such sums
as may be provided by law for the support of the
university; 2) To prescribe rules for its own government
and to enact for the government of the university such
general ordinances and regulations, not contrary to law,
as are consistent with the purposes of the university; and
3) To appoint, on recommendation of the President of the
University, professors, instructors, lecturers and other
employees of the University; to fix their compensation,
hours of service, and such other duties and conditions as
it may deem proper; to grant to them in its discretion

Finally, this court finds that accused-movants contention


that the same of P15 Million was received from former
President Estrada and not from the coffers of the
government, is a matter a defense that should be
properly ventilated during the trial on the merits of this
case.16
On November 19, 2003, petitioner filed a motion for
reconsideration.17 The motion was denied with finality in a
Resolution dated February 4, 2004.18
Issue
Petitioner is now before this Court, contending that "THE
RESPONDENT COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK AND/OR EXCESS OF
JURISDICTION IN NOT QUASHING THE INFORMATION AND
DISMISING THE CASE NOTWITHSTANDING THAT IS HAS NO
JURISDICTION OVER THE OFFENSE CHARGED IN THE
INFORMATION."19

In her discussion, she reiterates her four-fold argument below,


namely: (a) the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over estafa; (b)
petitioner is not a public officer with Salary Grade 27 and she paid
her tuition fees; (c) the offense charged was not committed in
relation to her office; (d) the funds in question personally came
from President Estrada, not from the government.
Our Ruling
The petition cannot be granted.
Preliminarily, the denial of a motion to
quash is not correctible by certiorari.
We would ordinarily dismiss this petition for certiorari outright on
procedural grounds. Well-established is the rule that when a
motion to quash in a criminal case is denied, the remedy is not a
petition for certiorari, but for petitioners to go to trial, without
prejudice to reiterating the special defenses invoked in their
motion to quash.20Remedial measures as regards interlocutory
orders, such as a motion to quash, are frowned upon and often
dismissed.21 The evident reason for this rule is to avoid multiplicity
of appeals in a single action.22
In Newsweek, Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate Court,23 the Court
clearly explained and illustrated the rule and the exceptions, thus:
As a general rule, an order denying a motion to dismiss
is merely interlocutory and cannot be subject of appeal
until final judgment or order is rendered. (Sec. 2 of Rule
41). The ordinary procedure to be followed in such a
case is to file an answer, go to trial and if the decision is
adverse, reiterate the issue on appeal from the final
judgment. The same rule applies to an order denying a
motion to quash, except that instead of filing an answer a
plea is entered and no appeal lies from a judgment of
acquittal.
This general rule is subject to certain exceptions. If the
court, in denying the motion to dismiss or motion to
quash, acts without or in excess of jurisdiction or with
grave abuse of discretion, then certiorari or prohibition
lies. The reason is that it would be unfair to require the
defendant or accused to undergo the ordeal and

expense of a trial if the court has no jurisdiction over the


subject matter or offense, or is not the court of proper
venue, or if the denial of the motion to dismiss or motion
to quash is made with grave abuse of discretion or a
whimsical and capricious exercise of judgment. In such
cases, the ordinary remedy of appeal cannot be plain
and adequate. The following are a few examples of the
exceptions to the general rule.
In De Jesus v. Garcia (19 SCRA 554), upon the denial of
a motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction over the
subject matter, this Court granted the petition
for certiorari and prohibition against the City Court of
Manila and directed the respondent court to dismiss the
case.
In Lopez v. City Judge (18 SCRA 616), upon the denial of
a motion to quash based on lack of jurisdiction over the
offense, this Court granted the petition for prohibition and
enjoined the respondent court from further proceeding in
the case.
In Enriquez v. Macadaeg (84 Phil. 674), upon the denial
of a motion to dismiss based on improper venue, this
Court granted the petition for prohibition and enjoined the
respondent judge from taking cognizance of the case
except to dismiss the same.
In Manalo v. Mariano (69 SCRA 80), upon the denial of a
motion to dismiss based on bar by prior judgment, this
Court granted the petition for certiorari and directed the
respondent judge to dismiss the case.
In Yuviengco v. Dacuycuy (105 SCRA 668), upon the
denial of a motion to dismiss based on the Statute of
Frauds, this Court granted the petition for certiorari and
dismissed the amended complaint.
In Tacas v. Cariaso (72 SCRA 527), this Court granted
the petition for certiorari after the motion to quash based
on double jeopardy was denied by respondent judge and
ordered him to desist from further action in the criminal
case except to dismiss the same.

In People v. Ramos (83 SCRA 11), the order denying the


motion to quash based on prescription was set aside
on certiorari and the criminal case was dismissed by this
Court.24
We do not find the Sandiganbayan to have committed a grave
abuse of discretion.
The jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan is
set by P.D. No. 1606, as amended, not by
R.A. No. 3019, as amended.
We first address petitioners contention that the jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan is determined by Section 4 of R.A. No. 3019 (The
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as amended). We note that
petitioner refers to Section 4 of the said law yet quotes Section 4
of P.D. No. 1606, as amended, in her motion to quash before the
Sandiganbayan.25 She repeats the reference in the instant petition
for certiorari26 and in her memorandum of authorities.27
We cannot bring ourselves to write this off as a mere clerical or
typographical error. It bears stressing that petitioner repeated this
claim twice despite corrections made by the Sandiganbayan.28
Her claim has no basis in law. It is P.D. No. 1606, as amended,
rather than R.A. No. 3019, as amended, that determines the
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. A brief legislative history of the
statute creating the Sandiganbayan is in order. The
Sandiganbayan was created by P.D. No. 1486, promulgated by
then President Ferdinand E. Marcos on June 11, 1978. It was
promulgated to attain the highest norms of official conduct
required of public officers and employees, based on the concept
that public officers and employees shall serve with the highest
degree of responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency and shall
remain at all times accountable to the people.29
P.D. No. 1486 was, in turn, amended by P.D. No. 1606 which was
promulgated on December 10, 1978. P.D. No. 1606 expanded the
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan.30
P.D. No. 1606 was later amended by P.D. No. 1861 on March 23,
1983, further altering the Sandiganbayan jurisdiction. R.A. No.
7975 approved on March 30, 1995 made succeeding
amendments to P.D. No. 1606, which was again amended on

February 5, 1997 by R.A. No. 8249. Section 4 of R.A. No. 8249


further modified the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. As it now
stands, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the following:
Sec. 4. Jurisdiction. - The Sandiganbayan shall exercise
exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving:
A. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended,
other known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,
Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title
VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or
more of the accused are officials occupying the following
positions in the government, whether in a permanent,
acting or interim capacity, at the time of the commission
of the offense:
(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the
positions of regional director and higher, otherwise
classified as Grade "27" and higher, of the Compensation
and Position Classification Act of 989 (Republic Act No.
6758), specifically including:
" (a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of
the sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers,
assessors, engineers, and other city department heads;
" (b) City mayor, vice-mayors, members of
the sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors,
engineers, and other city department heads;
"(c ) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the
position of consul and higher;
" (d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval
captains, and all officers of higher rank;
" (e) Officers of the Philippine National Police while
occupying the position of provincial director and those
holding the rank of senior superintended or higher;
" (f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants,
and officials and prosecutors in the Office of the
Ombudsman and special prosecutor;

" (g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of


government-owned or controlled corporations, state
universities or educational institutions or foundations.
" (2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified
as Grade "27'" and up under the Compensation and
Position Classification Act of 1989;
" (3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the
provisions of the Constitution;
" (4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional
Commission, without prejudice to the provisions of the
Constitution; and
" (5) All other national and local officials classified as
Grade "27'" and higher under the Compensation and
Position Classification Act of 1989.
B. Other offenses of felonies whether simple or
complexed with other crimes committed by the public
officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of this
section in relation to their office.
C. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in
connection with Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A,
issued in 1986.
" In cases where none of the accused are occupying
positions corresponding to Salary Grade "27'" or higher,
as prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or
military and PNP officer mentioned above, exclusive
original jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the proper
regional court, metropolitan trial court, municipal trial
court, and municipal circuit trial court, as the case may
be, pursuant to their respective jurisdictions as provided
in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as amended.
" The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive appellate
jurisdiction over final judgments, resolutions or order of
regional trial courts whether in the exercise of their own
original jurisdiction or of their appellate jurisdiction as
herein provided.

" The Sandiganbayan shall have exclusive original


jurisdiction over petitions for the issuance of the writs of
mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus,
injunctions, and other ancillary writs and processes in aid
of its appellate jurisdiction and over petitions of similar
nature, including quo warranto, arising or that may arise
in cases filed or which may be filed under Executive
Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986: Provided,
That the jurisdiction over these petitions shall not be
exclusive of the Supreme Court.
" The procedure prescribed in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129,
as well as the implementing rules that the Supreme
Court has promulgated and may thereafter promulgate,
relative to appeals/petitions for review to the Court of
Appeals, shall apply to appeals and petitions for review
filed with the Sandiganbayan. In all cases elevated to the
Sandiganbayan and from the Sandiganbayan to the
Supreme Court, the Office of the Ombudsman, through
its special prosecutor, shall represent the People of the
Philippines, except in cases filed pursuant to Executive
Order Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986.
" In case private individuals are charged as co-principals,
accomplices or accessories with the public officers or
employees, including those employed in governmentowned or controlled corporations, they shall be tried
jointly with said public officers and employees in the
proper courts which shall exercise exclusive jurisdiction
over them.
" Any provisions of law or Rules of Court to the contrary
notwithstanding, the criminal action and the
corresponding civil action for the recovery of civil liability
shall, at all times, be simultaneously instituted with, and
jointly determined in, the same proceeding by the
Sandiganbayan or the appropriate courts, the filing of the
criminal action being deemed to necessarily carry with it
the filing of the civil action, and no right to reserve the
filing such civil action separately from the criminal action
shall be recognized: Provided, however, That where the
civil action had heretofore been filed separately but
judgment therein has not yet been rendered, and the
criminal case is hereafter filed with the Sandiganbayan or

the appropriate court, said civil action shall be transferred


to the Sandiganbayan or the appropriate court, as the
case may be, for consolidation and joint determination
with the criminal action, otherwise the separate civil
action shall be deemed abandoned."
Upon the other hand, R.A. No. 3019 is a penal statute approved
on August 17, 1960. The said law represses certain acts of public
officers and private persons alike which constitute graft or corrupt
practices or which may lead thereto.31 Pursuant to Section 10 of
R.A. No. 3019, all prosecutions for violation of the said law should
be filed with the Sandiganbayan.32
R.A. No. 3019 does not contain an enumeration of the cases over
which the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction. In fact, Section 4 of
R.A. No. 3019 erroneously cited by petitioner, deals not with the
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan but with prohibition on private
individuals. We quote:
Section 4. Prohibition on private individuals. (a) It shall
be unlawful for any person having family or close
personal relation with any public official to capitalize or
exploit or take advantage of such family or close
personal relation by directly or indirectly requesting or
receiving any present, gift or material or pecuniary
advantage from any other person having some business,
transaction, application, request or contract with the
government, in which such public official has to
intervene. Family relation shall include the spouse or
relatives by consanguinity or affinity in the third civil
degree. The word "close personal relation" shall include
close personal friendship, social and fraternal
connections, and professional employment all giving rise
to intimacy which assures free access to such public
officer.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to
induce or cause any public official to commit any of the
offenses defined in Section 3 hereof.
In fine, the two statutes differ in that P.D. No. 1606, as amended,
defines the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan while R.A. No. 3019,
as amended, defines graft and corrupt practices and provides for
their penalties.

Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over


the offense of estafa.
Relying on Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, petitioner contends
that estafa is not among those crimes cognizable by the
Sandiganbayan. We note that in hoisting this argument, petitioner
isolated the first paragraph of Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, without
regard to the succeeding paragraphs of the said provision.
The rule is well-established in this jurisdiction that statutes should
receive a sensible construction so as to avoid an unjust or an
absurd conclusion.33 Interpretatio talis in ambiguis semper fienda
est, ut evitetur inconveniens et absurdum. Where there is
ambiguity, such interpretation as will avoid inconvenience and
absurdity is to be adopted. Kung saan mayroong kalabuan, ang
pagpapaliwanag ay hindi dapat maging mahirap at katawatawa.
Every section, provision or clause of the statute must be
expounded by reference to each other in order to arrive at the
effect contemplated by the legislature.34 The intention of the
legislator must be ascertained from the whole text of the law and
every part of the act is to be taken into view.35 In other words,
petitioners interpretation lies in direct opposition to the rule that a
statute must be interpreted as a whole under the principle that the
best interpreter of a statute is the statute itself.36 Optima statuti
interpretatrix est ipsum statutum. Ang isang batas ay marapat
na bigyan ng kahulugan sa kanyang kabuuan sa ilalim ng
prinsipyo na ang pinakamainam na interpretasyon ay ang
mismong batas.
Section 4(B) of P.D. No. 1606 reads:
B. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or
complexed with other crimes committed by the public
officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of this
section in relation to their office.
Evidently, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over other felonies
committed by public officials in relation to their office. We see no
plausible or sensible reason to exclude estafa as one of the
offenses included in Section 4(bB) of P.D. No. 1606.
Plainly, estafa is one of those other felonies. The jurisdiction is
simply subject to the twin requirements that (a) the offense is

committed by public officials and employees mentioned in Section


4(A) of P.D. No. 1606, as amended, and that (b) the offense is
committed in relation to their office.
In Perlas, Jr. v. People,37 the Court had occasion to explain that
the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over an indictment
for estafa versus a director of the National Parks Development
Committee, a government instrumentality. The Court held then:
The National Parks Development Committee was
created originally as an Executive Committee on January
14, 1963, for the development of the Quezon Memorial,
Luneta and other national parks (Executive Order No.
30). It was later designated as the National Parks
Development Committee (NPDC) on February 7, 1974
(E.O. No. 69). On January 9, 1966, Mrs. Imelda R.
Marcos and Teodoro F. Valencia were designated
Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively (E.O. No. 3).
Despite an attempt to transfer it to the Bureau of Forest
Development, Department of Natural Resources, on
December 1, 1975 (Letter of Implementation No. 39,
issued pursuant to PD No. 830, dated November 27,
1975), the NPDC has remained under the Office of the
President (E.O. No. 709, dated July 27, 1981).
Since 1977 to 1981, the annual appropriations decrees
listed NPDC as a regular government agency under the
Office of the President and allotments for its
maintenance and operating expenses were issued direct
to NPDC (Exh. 10-A, Perlas, Item Nos. 2, 3).
The Sandiganbayans jurisdiction over estafa was reiterated with
greater firmness in Bondoc v. Sandiganbayan.38Pertinent parts of
the Courts ruling in Bondoc read:
Furthermore, it is not legally possible to transfer
Bondocs cases to the Regional Trial Court, for the
simple reason that the latter would not have jurisdiction
over the offenses. As already above intimated, the
inability of the Sandiganbayan to hold a joint trial of
Bondocs cases and those of the government employees
separately charged for the same crimes, has not altered
the nature of the offenses charged, as estafa thru
falsification punishable by penalties higher than prision

correccional or imprisonment of six years, or a fine


of P6,000.00, committed by government employees in
conspiracy with private persons, including Bondoc.
These crimes are within the exclusive, original
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. They simply cannot be
taken cognizance of by the regular courts, apart from the
fact that even if the cases could be so transferred, a joint
trial would nonetheless not be possible.
Petitioner UP student regent
is a public officer.
Petitioner also contends that she is not a public officer. She does
not receive any salary or remuneration as a UP student regent.
This is not the first or likely the last time that We will be called
upon to define a public officer. InKhan, Jr. v. Office of the
Ombudsman, We ruled that it is difficult to pin down the definition
of a public officer.39The 1987 Constitution does not define who are
public officers. Rather, the varied definitions and concepts are
found in different statutes and jurisprudence.
In Aparri v. Court of Appeals,40 the Court held that:
A public office is the right, authority, and duty created and
conferred by law, by which for a given period, either fixed
by law or enduring at the pleasure of the creating power,
an individual is invested with some portion of the
sovereign functions of the government, to be exercise by
him for the benefit of the public ([Mechem Public Offices
and Officers,] Sec. 1). The right to hold a public office
under our political system is therefore not a natural right.
It exists, when it exists at all only because and by virtue
of some law expressly or impliedly creating and
conferring it (Mechem Ibid., Sec. 64). There is no such
thing as a vested interest or an estate in an office, or
even an absolute right to hold office. Excepting
constitutional offices which provide for special immunity
as regards salary and tenure, no one can be said to have
any vested right in an office or its salary (42 Am. Jur.
881).
In Laurel v. Desierto,41 the Court adopted the definition of Mechem
of a public office:

"A public office is the right, authority and duty, created


and conferred by law, by which, for a given period, either
fixed by law or enduring at the pleasure of the creating
power, an individual is invested with some portion of the
sovereign functions of the government, to be exercised
by him for the benefit of the public. The individual so
invested is a public officer."42
Petitioner claims that she is not a public officer with Salary Grade
27; she is, in fact, a regular tuition fee-paying student. This is
likewise bereft of merit. It is not only the salary grade that
determines the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. The
Sandiganbayan also has jurisdiction over other officers
enumerated in P.D. No. 1606. InGeduspan v. People,43 We held
that while the first part of Section 4(A) covers only officials with
Salary Grade 27 and higher, its second part specifically includes
other executive officials whose positions may not be of Salary
Grade 27 and higher but who are by express provision of law
placed under the jurisdiction of the said court. Petitioner falls
under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan as she is placed there
by express provision of law.44
Section 4(A)(1)(g) of P.D. No. 1606 explictly vested the
Sandiganbayan with jurisdiction over Presidents, directors or
trustees, or managers of government-owned or controlled
corporations, state universities or educational institutions or
foundations. Petitioner falls under this category. As the
Sandiganbayan pointed out, the BOR performs functions similar to
those of a board of trustees of a non-stock corporation.45 By
express mandate of law, petitioner is, indeed, a public officer as
contemplated by P.D. No. 1606.
Moreover, it is well established that compensation is not an
essential element of public office.46 At most, it is merely incidental
to the public office.47
Delegation of sovereign functions is essential in the public office.
An investment in an individual of some portion of the sovereign
functions of the government, to be exercised by him for the benefit
of the public makes one a public officer.48
The administration of the UP is a sovereign function in line with
Article XIV of the Constitution. UP performs a legitimate
governmental function by providing advanced instruction in

literature, philosophy, the sciences, and arts, and giving


professional and technical training.49 Moreover, UP is maintained
by the Government and it declares no dividends and is not a
corporation created for profit.50
The offense charged was committed
in relation to public office, according
to the Information.
Petitioner likewise argues that even assuming that she is a public
officer, the Sandiganbayan would still not have jurisdiction over
the offense because it was not committed in relation to her office.
According to petitioner, she had no power or authority to act
without the approval of the BOR. She adds there was no Board
Resolution issued by the BOR authorizing her to contract with
then President Estrada; and that her acts were not ratified by the
governing body of the state university. Resultantly, her act was
done in a private capacity and not in relation to public office.
It is axiomatic that jurisdiction is determined by the averments in
the information.51 More than that, jurisdiction is not affected by the
pleas or the theories set up by defendant or respondent in an
answer, a motion to dismiss, or a motion to quash.52 Otherwise,
jurisdiction would become dependent almost entirely upon the
whims of defendant or respondent.53
In the case at bench, the information alleged, in no uncertain
terms that petitioner, being then a student regent of U.P., "while in
the performance of her official functions, committing the offense in
relation to her office and taking advantage of her position, with
intent to gain, conspiring with her brother, JADE IAN D. SERANA,
a private individual, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously defraud the government x x x." (Underscoring
supplied)
Clearly, there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the
Sandiganbayan when it did not quash the information based on
this ground.
Source of funds is a defense that should
be raised during trial on the merits.

It is contended anew that the amount came from President


Estradas private funds and not from the government coffers.
Petitioner insists the charge has no leg to stand on.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit.

We cannot agree. The information alleges that the funds came


from the Office of the President and not its then occupant,
President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. Under the information, it is
averred that "petitioner requested the amount of Fifteen Million
Pesos (P15,000,000.00), Philippine Currency, from the Office of
the President, and the latter relying and believing on said false
pretenses and misrepresentation gave and delivered to said
accused Land Bank Check No. 91353 dated October 24, 2000 in
the amount of Fifteen Million Pesos (P15,000,000.00)."

Ynares-Santiago, Chairperson, Austria-Martinez, Corona*,


Nachura, JJ., concur.

Again, the Court sustains the Sandiganbayan observation that the


source of the P15,000,000 is a matter of defense that should be
ventilated during the trial on the merits of the instant case.54
A lawyer owes candor, fairness
and honesty to the Court.
As a parting note, petitioners counsel, Renato G. dela Cruz,
misrepresented his reference to Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606 as a
quotation from Section 4 of R.A. No. 3019. A review of his motion
to quash, the instant petition forcertiorari and his memorandum,
unveils the misquotation. We urge petitioners counsel to observe
Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, specifically
Rule 10.02 of the Rules stating that "a lawyer shall not misquote
or misrepresent."
The Court stressed the importance of this rule in Pangan v.
Ramos,55 where Atty Dionisio D. Ramos used the name Pedro
D.D. Ramos in connection with a criminal case. The Court ruled
that Atty. Ramos resorted to deception by using a name different
from that with which he was authorized. We severely reprimanded
Atty. Ramos and warned that a repetition may warrant suspension
or disbarment.56
We admonish petitioners counsel to be more careful and accurate
in his citation. A lawyers conduct before the court should be
characterized by candor and fairness.57 The administration of
justice would gravely suffer if lawyers do not act with complete
candor and honesty before the courts.58

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 198755

June 5, 2013

ALBERTO PAT-OG, SR., Petitioner,


vs.
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, Respondent.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
Before this Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule
45 of the Rules of Court, which seeks to set aside the April 6,
2011 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No.
101700, affirming the April 11, 2007 Decision2 of the Civil Service
Commission (CSC), which ordered the dismissal of petitioner
Alberto Pat-og, Sr. (Pat-og) from the service for grave misconduct.

Taking cognizance of the administrative case, the CSC-CAR


directed Pat-og to file his counter-affidavit. He denied the charges
hurled against him and claimed that when he was conducting his
Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health (MAPEH) class,
composed of third year students, he instructed the girls to play
volleyball and the boys to play basketball; that he later directed
the boys to form two lines; that after the boys failed to follow his
repeated instructions, he scolded them in a loud voice and
wrested the ball from them; that while approaching them, he
noticed that there were male students who were not members of
his class who had joined the shooting practice; that one of those
male students was Bang-on, who was supposed to be having his
own MAPEH class under another teacher; that he then glared at
them, continued scolding them and dismissed the class for their
failure to follow instructions; and that he offered the sworn
statement of other students to prove that he did not box Bang-on.

The Facts

On June 1, 2004, the CSC-CAR found the existence of a prima


faciecase for misconduct and formally charged Pat-og.

On September 13, 2003, Robert Bang-on (Bang-on), then a 14year old second year high school student of the Antadao National
High School in Sagada, Mountain Province, tiled an affidavitcomplaint against Pat-og, a third year high school teacher of the
same school, before the Civil Service Commission-Cordillera
Administrative Region (CSC-CAR).

While the proceedings of the administrative case were ongoing,


the RTC rendered its judgment in the criminal case and found Patog guilty of the offense of slight physical injury. He was meted the
penalty of imprisonment from eleven (11) to twenty (20) days.
Following his application for probation, the decision became final
and executory and judgment was entered.

Bang-on alleged that on the morning of August 26, 2003, he


attended his class at the basketball court of the school, where
Pat-og and his third year students were also holding a separate
class; that he and some of his classmates joined Pat-ogs third
year students who were practicing basketball shots; that Pat-og
later instructed them to form two lines; that thinking that three
lines were to be formed, he stayed in between the two lines; that
Pat-og then held his right arm and punched his stomach without
warning for failing to follow instructions; and that as a result, he
suffered stomach pain for several days and was confined in a
hospital from September 10-12, 2003, as evidenced by a medicolegal certificate, which stated that he sustained a contusion
hematoma in the hypogastric area.

Meanwhile, in the administrative case, a pre-hearing conference


was conducted after repeated postponement by Pat-og. With the
approval of the CSC-CAR, the prosecution submitted its position
paper in lieu of a formal presentation of evidence and formally
offered its evidence, which included the decision in the criminal
case. It offered the affidavits of Raymund Atuban, a classmate of
Bang-on; and James Domanog, a third year high school student,
who both witnessed Pat-og hit Bang-on in the stomach.

Regarding the same incident, Bang-on filed a criminal case


against Pat-og for the crime of Less Serious Physical Injury with
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bontoc, Mountain Province.

For his defense, Pat-og offered the testimonies of his witnesses Emiliano Dontongan (Dontongan), a teacher in another school,
who alleged that he was a member of the Municipal Council for
the Protection of Children, and that, in such capacity, he
investigated the incident and came to the conclusion that it did not
happen at all; and Ernest Kimmot, who testified that he was in the
basketball court at the time but did not see such incident. Pat-og

also presented the affidavits of thirteen other witnesses to prove


that he did not punch Bang-on.
Ruling of the CSC-CAR
In its Decision,3 dated September 19, 2006, the CSC-CAR found
Pat-og guilty and disposed as follows:
WHEREFORE, all premises told, respondent Alberto Pat-og, Sr.,
Teacher Antadao National High School, is hereby found guilty of
Simple Misconduct.
Under the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil
Service, the imposable penalty on the first offense of Simple
Misconduct is suspension of one (1) month and one (1) day to six
(6) months.
Due to seriousness of the resulting injury to the fragile body of the
minor victim, the CSC-CAR hereby imposed upon respondent the
maximum penalty attached to the offense which is six months
suspension without pay.
The CSC-CAR gave greater weight to the version posited by the
prosecution, finding that a blow was indeed inflicted by Pat-og on
Bang-on. It found that Pat-og had a motive for doing so - his
students failure to follow his repeated instructions which angered
him. Nevertheless, the CSCCAR ruled that a motive was not
necessary to establish guilt if the perpetrator of the offense was
positively identified. The positive identification of Pat-og was duly
proven by the corroborative testimonies of the prosecution
witnesses, who were found to be credible and disinterested. The
testimony of defense witness, Dontongan, was not given credence
considering that the students he interviewed for his investigation
claimed that Pat-og was not even angry at the time of the incident,
contrary to the latters own admission.
The CSC-CAR held that the actions of Pat-og clearly transgressed
the proper norms of conduct required of a public official, and the
gravity of the offense was further magnified by the seriousness of
the injury of Bang-on which required a healing period of more than
ten (10) days. It pointed out that, being his teacher, Pat-ogs
substitute parental authority did not give him license to physically
chastise a misbehaving student. The CSC-CAR added that the

fact that Pat-og applied for probation in the criminal case, instead
of filing an appeal, further convinced it of his guilt.
The CSC-CAR believed that the act committed by Pat-og was
sufficient to find him guilty of Grave Misconduct. It, however, found
the corresponding penalty of dismissal from the service too harsh
under the circumstances. Thus, it adjudged petitioner guilty of
Simple Misconduct and imposed the maximum penalty of
suspension for six (6) months.
On December 11, 2006, the motion for reconsideration filed by
Pat-og was denied for lack of merit.4
The Ruling of the CSC
5

In its Resolution, dated April 11, 2007, the CSC dismissed Patogs appeal and affirmed with modification the decision of the
CSC-CAR as follows:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the instant appeal
is hereby DISMISSED. The decision of the CSC-CAR is affirmed
with the modification that Alberto Pat-og, Sr., is adjudged guilty of
grave misconduct, for which he is meted out the penalty of
dismissal from the service with all its accessory penalties of
cancellation of eligibilities, perpetual disqualification from
reemployment in the government service, and forfeiture of
retirement benefits.6
After evaluating the records, the CSC sustained the CSC-CARs
conclusion that there existed substantial evidence to sustain the
finding that Pat-og did punch Bang-on in the stomach. It gave
greater weight to the positive statements of Bang-on and his
witnesses over the bare denial of Patog. It also highlighted the
fact that Pat-og failed to adduce evidence of any ill motive on the
part of Bang-on in filing the administrative case against him. It
likewise gave credence to the medico-legal certificate showing
that Bang-on suffered a hematoma contusion in his hypogastric
area.
The CSC ruled that the affidavits of Bang-ons witnesses were not
bereft of evidentiary value even if Pat-og was not afforded a
chance to cross-examine the witnesses of Bang-on. It is of no
moment because the cross- examination of witnesses is not an
indispensable requirement of administrative due process.

The CSC noted that Pat-og did not question but, instead, fully
acquiesced in his conviction in the criminal case for slight physical
injury, which was based on the same set of facts and
circumstances, and involved the same parties and issues. It, thus,
considered his prior criminal conviction as evidence against him in
the administrative case.

In its assailed Resolution,9 dated September 13, 2011, the CA


denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Pat-og.

Finding that his act of punching his student displayed a flagrant


and wanton disregard of the dignity of a person, reminiscent of
corporal punishment that had since been outlawed for being
harsh, unjust, and cruel, the CSC upgraded Pat-ogs offense from
Simple Misconduct to Grave Misconduct and ordered his
dismissal from the service.

WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS


COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION WHEN IT
AFFIRMED THE SUPREME PENALTY OF DISMISSAL FROM
SERVICE WITH FORFEITURE OF RETIREMENT BENEFITS
AGAINST THE PETITIONER WITHOUT CONSIDERING
PETITIONERS LONG YEARS OF GOVERNMENT SERVICE?

Pat-og filed a motion for reconsideration, questioning for the first


time the jurisdiction of CSC over the case. He contended that
administrative charges against a public school teacher should
have been initially heard by a committee to be constituted
pursuant to the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers.

WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS


COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION WHEN IT
RULED THAT PETITIONER IS ESTOPPED FROM
QUESTIONING THE JURISDICTION OF THE CIVIL SERVICE
COMMISSION TO HEAR AND DECIDE THE ADMINISTRATIVE
CASE AGAINST HIM?

On November 5, 2007, the CSC denied his motion for


reconsideration.7 It ruled that Pat-og was estopped from
challenging its jurisdiction considering that he actively participated
in the administrative proceedings against him, raising the issue of
jurisdiction only after his appeal was dismissed by the CSC.

Hence, the present petition with the following


Assignment of Errors

WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS


SERIOUSLY ERRED AND COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION IN DISMISSING THE APPEAL DESPITE LACK OF
SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE?

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On Jurisdiction

In its assailed April 6, 2011 Decision,8 the CA affirmed the


resolutions of the CSC. It agreed that Pat-og was estopped from
questioning the jurisdiction of the CSC as the records clearly
showed that he actively participated in the proceedings. It was of
the view that Pat-og was not denied due process when he failed
to cross-examine Bang-on and his witnesses because he was
given the opportunity to be heard and present his evidence before
the CSC-CAR and the CSC.

Pat-og contends that Section 9 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 4670,


otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers,
provides that administrative charges against a public school
teacher shall be heard initially by a committee constituted under
said section. As no committee was ever formed, the petitioner
posits that he was denied due process and that the CSC did not
have the jurisdiction to hear and decide his administrative case.
He further argues that notwithstanding the fact that the issue of
jurisdiction was raised for the first time on appeal, the rule remains
that estoppel does not confer jurisdiction on a tribunal that has no
jurisdiction over the cause of action or subject matter of the case.

The CA also held that the CSC committed no error in taking into
account the conviction of Pat-og in the criminal case. It stated that
his conviction was not the sole basis of the CSC for his dismissal
from the service because there was substantial evidence proving
that Pat-og had indeed hit Bang-on.

The Court cannot sustain his position.

The petitioners argument that the administrative case against him


can only proceed under R.A. No. 4670 is misplaced.

and decide the case to the exclusion of the DepEd and the Board
of Professional Teachers.17

afforded the opportunity to cross-examine them. Therefore, their


affidavits were mere hearsay and insufficient to prove his guilt.

In Puse v. Santos-Puse,10 it was held that the CSC, the


Department of Education (DepEd) and the Board of Professional
Teachers-Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) have
concurrent jurisdiction over administrative cases against public
school teachers.

In CSC v. Alfonso,18 it was held that special laws, such as R.A. No.
4670, do not divest the CSC of its inherent power to supervise
and discipline all members of the civil service, including public
school teachers. Pat-og, as a public school teacher, is first and
foremost, a civil servant accountable to the people and
answerable to the CSC for complaints lodged against him as a
public servant. To hold that R.A. No. 4670 divests the CSC of its
power to discipline public school teachers would negate the very
purpose for which the CSC was established and would impliedly
amend the Constitution itself.

The petitioner does not persuade.

Under Article IX-B of the 1987 Constitution, the CSC is the body
charged with the establishment and administration of a career civil
service which embraces all branches and agencies of the
government.11 Executive Order (E.O.) No. 292 (the Administrative
Code of 1987)12 and Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 807 (the Civil
Service Decree of the Philippines)13 expressly provide that the
CSC has the power to hear and decide administrative disciplinary
cases instituted with it or brought to it on appeal. Thus, the CSC,
as the central personnel agency of the government, has the
inherent power to supervise and discipline all members of the civil
service, including public school teachers.
Indeed, under Section 9 of R.A. No. 4670, the jurisdiction over
administrative cases of public school teachers is lodged with the
investigating committee constituted therein.14 Also, under Section
23 of R.A. No. 7836 (the Philippine Teachers Professionalization
Act of 1994), the Board of Professional Teachers is given the
power, after due notice and hearing, to suspend or revoke the
certificate of registration of a professional teacher for causes
enumerated therein.15
Concurrent jurisdiction is that which is possessed over the same
parties or subject matter at the same time by two or more
separate tribunals. When the law bestows upon a government
body the jurisdiction to hear and decide cases involving specific
matters, it is to be presumed that such jurisdiction is exclusive
unless it be proved that another body is likewise vested with the
same jurisdiction, in which case, both bodies have concurrent
jurisdiction over the matter.16
Where concurrent jurisdiction exists in several tribunals, the body
that first takes cognizance of the complaint shall exercise
jurisdiction to the exclusion of the others. In this case, it was CSC
which first acquired jurisdiction over the case because the
complaint was filed before it. Thus, it had the authority to proceed

To further drive home the point, it was ruled in CSC v.


Macud19 that R.A. No. 4670, in imposing a separate set of
procedural requirements in connection with administrative
proceedings against public school teachers, should be construed
to refer only to the specific procedure to be followed in
administrative investigations conducted by the DepEd. By no
means, then, did R.A. No. 4670 confer an exclusive disciplinary
authority over public school teachers on the DepEd.
At any rate, granting that the CSC was without jurisdiction, the
petitioner is indeed estopped from raising the issue. Although the
rule states that a jurisdictional question may be raised at any time,
such rule admits of the exception where, as in this case, estoppel
has supervened.20 Here, instead of opposing the CSCs exercise
of jurisdiction, the petitioner invoked the same by actively
participating in the proceedings before the CSC-CAR and by even
filing his appeal before the CSC itself; only raising the issue of
jurisdiction later in his motion for reconsideration after the CSC
denied his appeal. This Court has time and again frowned upon
the undesirable practice of a party submitting his case for decision
and then accepting the judgment only if favorable, but attacking it
for lack of jurisdiction when adverse.21
On Administrative Due Process
On due process, Pat-og asserts that the affidavits of the
complainant and his witnesses are of questionable veracity having
been subscribed in Bontoc, which is nearly 30 kilometers from the
residences of the parties. Furthermore, he claimed that
considering that the said affiants never testified, he was never

The essence of due process is simply to be heard, or as applied


to administrative proceedings, a fair and reasonable opportunity to
explain ones side, or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of
the action or ruling complained of.22 Administrative due process
cannot be fully equated with due process in its strict judicial
sense. In administrative proceedings, a formal or trial-type hearing
is not always necessary23 and technical rules of procedure are not
strictly applied. Hence, the right to cross-examine is not an
indispensable aspect of administrative due process.24 The
petitioner cannot, therefore, argue that the affidavit of Bang-on
and his witnesses are hearsay and insufficient to prove his guilt.
At any rate, having actively participated in the proceedings before
the CSC-CAR, the CSC, and the CA, the petitioner was
apparently afforded every opportunity to explain his side and seek
reconsideration of the ruling against him.1wphi1
As to the issue of the veracity of the affidavits, such is a question
of fact which cannot now be raised before the Court under Rule
45 of the Rules of Court. The CSC-CAR, the CSC and the CA did
not, therefore, err in giving credence to the affidavits of the
complainants and his witnesses, and in consequently ruling that
there was substantial evidence to support the finding of
misconduct on the part of the petitioner.
On the Penalty
Assuming that he did box Bang-on, Pat-og argues that there is no
substantial evidence to prove that he did so with a clear intent to
violate the law or in flagrant disregard of the established rule, as
required for a finding of grave misconduct. He insists that he was
not motivated by bad faith or ill will because he acted in the belief
that, as a teacher, he was exercising authority over Bang-on in
loco parentis, and was, accordingly, within his rights to discipline
his student. Citing his 33 years in the government service without
any adverse record against him and the fact that he is at the edge
of retirement, being already 62 years old, the petitioner prays that,
in the name of substantial and compassionate justice, the CSC-

CARs finding of simple misconduct and the concomitant penalty


of suspension should be upheld, instead of dismissal.
The Court agrees in part.
Misconduct means intentional wrongdoing or deliberate violation
of a rule of law or standard of behavior. To constitute an
administrative offense, misconduct should relate to or be
connected with the performance of the official functions and duties
of a public officer. In grave misconduct, as distinguished from
simple misconduct, the elements of corruption, clear intent to
violate the law or t1agrant disregard of an established rule must
be manifest.25
Teachers are duly licensed professionals who must not only be
competent in the practice of their noble profession, but must also
possess dignity and a reputation with high moral values. They
must strictly adhere to, observe, and practice the set of ethical
and moral principles, standards, and values laid down in the Code
of Ethics of Professional Teachers, which apply to all teachers in
schools in the Philippines, whether public or private, as provided
in the preamble of the said Code.26 Section 8 of Article VIII of the
same Code expressly provides that "a teacher shall not inflict
corporal punishment on offending learners."
Clearly then, petitioner cannot argue that in punching Bang-on, he
was exercising his right as a teacher in loco parentis to discipline
his student. It is beyond cavil that the petitioner, as a public school
teacher, deliberately violated his Code of Ethics. Such violation is
a flagrant disregard for the established rule contained in the said
Code tantamount to grave misconduct.
Under Section 52(A)(2) of Rule IV of the Uniform Rules on
Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, the penalty for grave
misconduct is dismissal from the service, which carries with it the
cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and
perpetual disqualification from reemployment in the government
service.27 This penalty must, however, be tempered with
compassion as there was sut1icient provocation on the part of
Bang-on. Considering further the mitigating circumstances that the
petitioner has been in the government service for 33 years, that
this is his first offense and that he is at the cusp of retirement, the
Court finds the penalty of suspension for six months as
appropriate under the circumstances.

WHEREFORE, the Court PARTIALLY GRANTS the petition and


MODIFIES the April 6, 2011 Decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 101700. Accordingly, Alberto Pat-og, Sr. is found
GUlLTY of Grave Misconduct, but the penalty is reduced from
dismissal from the service to SUSPENSION for SIX MONTHS.
SO ORDERED.
JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA
Associate Justice
G.R. No. 173946

June 19, 2013

BOSTON EQUITY RESOURCES, INC., Petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS AND LOLITA G. TOLEDO, Respondents.
DECISION
PEREZ, J.:
Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari seeking to
reverse and set aside: (1) the Decision,1 dated 28 February 2006
and (2) the Resolution,2 dated 1 August 2006 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 88586. The challenged decision
granted herein respondent's petition for certiorari upon a finding
that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion in denying
respondent's motion to dismiss the complaint against her.3Based
on this finding, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the
Orders, dated 8 November 20044 and 22 December
2004,5 respectively, of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila,
Branch 24.
The Facts
On 24 December 1997, petitioner filed a complaint for sum of
money with a prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary
attachment against the spouses Manuel and Lolita Toledo.6 Herein
respondent filed an Answer dated 19 March 1998 but on 7 May
1998, she filed a Motion for Leave to Admit Amended Answer7 in
which she alleged, among others, that her husband and codefendant, Manuel Toledo (Manuel), is already dead.8 The death
certificate9 of Manuel states "13 July 1995" as the date of death.

As a result, petitioner filed a motion, dated 5 August 1999, to


require respondent to disclose the heirs of Manuel.10 In
compliance with the verbal order of the court during the 11
October 1999 hearing of the case, respondent submitted the
required names and addresses of the heirs.11 Petitioner then filed
a Motion for Substitution,12 dated 18 January 2000, praying that
Manuel be substituted by his children as party-defendants. It
appears that this motion was granted by the trial court in an Order
dated 9 October 2000.13
Pre-trial thereafter ensued and on 18 July 2001, the trial court
issued its pre-trial order containing, among others, the dates of
hearing of the case.14
The trial of the case then proceeded. Herein petitioner, as plaintiff,
presented its evidence and its exhibits were thereafter admitted.
On 26 May 2004, the reception of evidence for herein respondent
was cancelled upon agreement of the parties. On 24 September
2004, counsel for herein respondent was given a period of fifteen
days within which to file a demurrer to evidence.15 However, on 7
October 2004, respondent instead filed a motion to dismiss the
complaint, citing the following as grounds: (1) that the complaint
failed to implead an indispensable party or a real party in interest;
hence, the case must be dismissed for failure to state a cause of
action; (2) that the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the
person of Manuel pursuant to Section 5, Rule 86 of the Revised
Rules of Court; (3) that the trial court erred in ordering the
substitution of the deceased Manuel by his heirs; and (4) that the
court must also dismiss the case against Lolita Toledo in
accordance with Section 6, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court.16
The trial court, in an Order dated 8 November 2004, denied the
motion to dismiss for having been filed out of time, citing Section
1, Rule 16 of the 1997 Rules of Court which states that: "Within
the time for but before filing the answer to the complaint or
pleading asserting a claim, a motion to dismiss may be made x x
x."17Respondents motion for reconsideration of the order of denial
was likewise denied on the ground that "defendants attack on the
jurisdiction of this Court is now barred by estoppel by laches"
since respondent failed to raise the issue despite several chances
to do so.18

Aggrieved, respondent filed a petition for certiorari with the Court


of Appeals alleging that the trial court seriously erred and gravely
abused its discretion in denying her motion to dismiss despite
discovery, during the trial of the case, of evidence that would
constitute a ground for dismissal of the case.19
The Court of Appeals granted the petition based on the following
grounds:
It is elementary that courts acquire jurisdiction over the person of
the defendant x x x only when the latter voluntarily appeared or
submitted to the court or by coercive process issued by the court
to him, x x x. In this case, it is undisputed that when petitioner
Boston filed the complaint on December 24, 1997, defendant
Manuel S. Toledo was already dead, x x x. Such being the case,
the court a quo could not have acquired jurisdiction over the
person of defendant Manuel S. Toledo.
x x x the court a quos denial of respondents motion to dismiss
was based on its finding that respondents attack on the
jurisdiction of the court was already barred by laches as
respondent failed to raise the said ground in its [sic] amended
answer and during the pre-trial, despite her active participation in
the proceedings.
However, x x x it is well-settled that issue on jurisdiction may be
raised at any stage of the proceeding, even for the first time on
appeal. By timely raising the issue on jurisdiction in her motion to
dismiss x x x respondent is not estopped from raising the question
on jurisdiction.
Moreover, when issue on jurisdiction was raised by respondent,
the court a quo had not yet decided the case, hence, there is no
basis for the court a quo to invoke estoppel to justify its denial of
the motion for reconsideration;
It should be stressed that when the complaint was filed, defendant
Manuel S. Toledo was already dead. The complaint should have
impleaded the estate of Manuel S. Toledo as defendant, not only
the wife, considering that the estate of Manuel S. Toledo is an
indispensable party, which stands to be benefited or be injured in
the outcome of the case. x x x
xxxx

Respondents motion to dismiss the complaint should have been


granted by public respondent judge as the same was in order.
Considering that the obligation of Manuel S. Toledo is solidary
with another debtor, x x x, the claim x x x should be filed against
the estate of Manuel S. Toledo, in conformity with the provision of
Section 6, Rule 86 of the Rules of Court, x x x.20
The Court of Appeals denied petitioners motion for
reconsideration. Hence, this petition.
The Issues
Petitioner claims that the Court of Appeals erred in not holding
that:
1. Respondent is already estopped from questioning the
trial courts jurisdiction;
2. Petitioner never failed to implead an indispensable
party as the estate of Manuel is not an indispensable
party;
3. The inclusion of Manuel as party-defendant is a mere
misjoinder of party not warranting the dismissal of the
case before the lower court; and
4. Since the estate of Manuel is not an indispensable
party, it is not necessary that petitioner file its claim
against the estate of Manuel.
In essence, what is at issue here is the correctness of the trial
courts orders denying respondents motion to dismiss.
The Ruling of the Court

trial court denying a motion to dismiss is merely interlocutory, as it


neither terminates nor finally disposes of a case and still leaves
something to be done by the court before a case is finally decided
on the merits.21 Therefore, "the proper remedy in such a case is to
appeal after a decision has been rendered."22
As the Supreme Court held in Indiana Aerospace University v.
Comm. on Higher Education:23
A writ of certiorari is not intended to correct every controversial
interlocutory ruling; it is resorted only to correct a grave abuse of
discretion or a whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack
of jurisdiction. Its function is limited to keeping an inferior court
within its jurisdiction and to relieve persons from arbitrary acts
acts which courts or judges have no power or authority in law to
perform. It is not designed to correct erroneous findings and
conclusions made by the courts. (Emphasis supplied)
Even assuming that certiorari is the proper remedy, the trial court
did not commit grave abuse of discretion in denying respondents
motion to dismiss. It, in fact, acted correctly when it issued the
questioned orders as respondents motion to dismiss was filed
SIX YEARS AND FIVE MONTHS AFTER SHE FILED HER
AMENDED ANSWER. This circumstance alone already warranted
the outright dismissal of the motion for having been filed in clear
contravention of the express mandate of Section 1, Rule 16, of the
Revised Rules of Court. Under this provision, a motion to dismiss
shall be filed within the time for but before the filing of an answer
to the complaint or pleading asserting a claim.24
More importantly, respondents motion to dismiss was filed after
petitioner has completed the presentation of its evidence in the
trial court, giving credence to petitioners and the trial courts
conclusion that the filing of the motion to dismiss was a mere ploy
on the part of respondent to delay the prompt resolution of the
case against her.

We find merit in the petition.


Motion to dismiss filed out of time
To begin with, the Court of Appeals erred in granting the writ of
certiorari in favor of respondent. Well settled is the rule that the
special civil action for certiorari is not the proper remedy to assail
the denial by the trial court of a motion to dismiss. The order of the

Also worth mentioning is the fact that respondents motion to


dismiss under consideration herein is not the first motion to
dismiss she filed in the trial court. It appears that she had filed an
earlier motion to dismiss26 on the sole ground of the
unenforceability of petitioners claim under the Statute of Frauds,
which motion was denied by the trial court. More telling is the
following narration of the trial court in its Order denying

respondents motion for reconsideration of the denial of her


motion to dismiss:
As can be gleaned from the records, with the admission of
plaintiffs exhibits, reception of defendants evidence was set on
March 31, and April 23, 2004 x x x . On motion of the defendants,
the hearing on March 31, 2004 was cancelled.
On April 14, 2004, defendants sought the issuance of subpoena
ad testificandum and duces tecum to one Gina M. Madulid, to
appear and testify for the defendants on April 23, 2004. Reception
of defendants evidence was again deferred to May 26, June 2
and June 30, 2004, x x x.
On May 13, 2004, defendants sought again the issuance of a
subpoena duces tecum and ad testificandum to the said Gina
Madulid. On May 26, 2004, reception of defendants [sic] evidence
was cancelled upon the agreement of the parties. On July 28,
2004, in the absence of defendants witness, hearing was reset to
September 24 and October 8, 2004 x x x.
On September 24, 2004, counsel for defendants was given a
period of fifteen (15) days to file a demurrer to evidence. On
October 7, 2004, defendants filed instead a Motion to Dismiss x x
x.27
Respondents act of filing multiple motions, such as the first and
earlier motion to dismiss and then the motion to dismiss at issue
here, as well as several motions for postponement, lends
credibility to the position taken by petitioner, which is shared by
the trial court, that respondent is
deliberately impeding the early disposition of this case. The filing
of the second motion to dismiss was, therefore, "not only improper
but also dilatory."28 Thus, the trial court, "far from deviating or
straying off course from established jurisprudence on the matter, x
x x had in fact faithfully observed the law and legal precedents in
this case."29 The Court of Appeals, therefore, erred not only in
entertaining respondents petition for certiorari, it likewise erred in
ruling that the trial court committed grave abuse of discretion
when it denied respondents motion to dismiss.
On whether or not respondent is estopped from
questioning the jurisdiction of the trial court

At the outset, it must be here stated that, as the succeeding


discussions will demonstrate, jurisdiction over the person of
Manuel should not be an issue in this case. A protracted discourse
on jurisdiction is, nevertheless, demanded by the fact that
jurisdiction has been raised as an issue from the lower court, to
the Court of Appeals and, finally, before this Court. For the sake of
clarity, and in order to finally settle the controversy and fully
dispose of all the issues in this case, it was deemed imperative to
resolve the issue of jurisdiction.
1. Aspects of Jurisdiction
Petitioner calls attention to the fact that respondents motion to
dismiss questioning the trial courts jurisdiction was filed more
than six years after her amended answer was filed. According to
petitioner, respondent had several opportunities, at various stages
of the proceedings, to assail the trial courts jurisdiction but never
did so for six straight years. Citing the doctrine laid down in the
case of Tijam, et al. v. Sibonghanoy, et al.30 petitioner claimed that
respondents failure to raise the question of jurisdiction at an
earlier stage bars her from later questioning it, especially since
she actively participated in the proceedings conducted by the trial
court.
Petitioners argument is misplaced, in that, it failed to consider
that the concept of jurisdiction has several aspects, namely: (1)
jurisdiction over the subject matter; (2) jurisdiction over the
parties; (3) jurisdiction over the issues of the case; and (4) in
cases involving property, jurisdiction over the res or the thing
which is the subject of the litigation.31
The aspect of jurisdiction which may be barred from being
assailed as a result of estoppel by laches is jurisdiction over the
subject matter. Thus, in Tijam, the case relied upon by petitioner,
the issue involved was the authority of the then Court of First
Instance to hear a case for the collection of a sum of money in the
amount of P1,908.00 which amount was, at that time, within the
exclusive original jurisdiction of the municipal courts.
In subsequent cases citing the ruling of the Court in Tijam, what
was likewise at issue was the jurisdiction of the trial court over the
subject matter of the case. Accordingly, in Spouses Gonzaga v.
Court of Appeals,32 the issue for consideration was the authority of
the regional trial court to hear and decide an action for reformation

of contract and damages involving a subdivision lot, it being


argued therein that jurisdiction is vested in the Housing and Land
Use Regulatory Board pursuant to PD 957 (The Subdivision and
Condominium Buyers Protective Decree). In Lee v. Presiding
Judge, MTC, Legaspi City,33 petitioners argued that the
respondent municipal trial court had no jurisdiction over the
complaint for ejectment because the issue of ownership was
raised in the pleadings. Finally, in People v. Casuga,34 accusedappellant claimed that the crime of grave slander, of which she
was charged, falls within the concurrent jurisdiction of municipal
courts or city courts and the then courts of first instance, and that
the judgment of the court of first instance, to which she had
appealed the municipal court's conviction, should be deemed null
and void for want of jurisdiction as her appeal should have been
filed with the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.
In all of these cases, the Supreme Court barred the attack on the
jurisdiction of the respective courts concerned over the subject
matter of the case based on estoppel by laches, declaring that
parties cannot be allowed to belatedly adopt an inconsistent
posture by attacking the jurisdiction of a court to which they
submitted their cause voluntarily.35
Here, what respondent was questioning in her motion to dismiss
before the trial court was that courts jurisdiction over the person
of defendant Manuel. Thus, the principle of estoppel by laches
finds no application in this case. Instead, the principles relating to
jurisdiction over the person of the parties are pertinent herein.
The Rules of Court provide:
RULE 9
EFFECT OF FAILURE TO PLEAD
Section 1. Defenses and objections not pleaded. Defenses and
objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the
answer are deemed waived. However, when it appears from the
pleadings or the evidence on record that the court has no
jurisdiction over the subject matter, that there is another action
pending between the same parties for the same cause, or that the
action is barred by a prior judgment or by statute of limitations, the
court shall dismiss the claim.

RULE 15
MOTIONS
Sec. 8. Omnibus motion. Subject to the provisions of Section 1
of Rule 9, a motion attacking a pleading, order, judgment, or
proceeding shall include all objections then available, and all
objections not so included shall be deemed waived.
Based on the foregoing provisions, the "objection on jurisdictional
grounds which is not waived even if not alleged in a motion to
dismiss or the answer is lack of jurisdiction over the subject
matter. x x x Lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter can
always be raised anytime, even for the first time on appeal, since
jurisdictional issues cannot be waived x x x subject, however, to
the principle of estoppel by laches."36
Since the defense of lack of jurisdiction over the person of a party
to a case is not one of those defenses which are not deemed
waived under Section 1 of Rule 9, such defense must be invoked
when an answer or a motion to dismiss is filed in order to prevent
a waiver of the defense.37 If the objection is not raised either in a
motion to dismiss or in the answer, the objection to the jurisdiction
over the person of the plaintiff or the defendant is deemed waived
by virtue of the first sentence of the above-quoted Section 1 of
Rule 9 of the Rules of Court.38
The Court of Appeals, therefore, erred when it made a sweeping
pronouncement in its questioned decision, stating that "issue on
jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceeding, even for
the first time on appeal" and that, therefore, respondent timely
raised the issue in her motion to dismiss and is, consequently, not
estopped from raising the question of jurisdiction. As the question
of jurisdiction involved here is that over the person of the
defendant Manuel, the same is deemed waived if not raised in the
answer or a motion to dismiss. In any case, respondent cannot
claim the defense since "lack of jurisdiction over the person, being
subject to waiver, is a personal defense which can only be
asserted by the party who can thereby waive it by silence."39
2. Jurisdiction over the person of a defendant is acquired through
a valid service of summons; trial court did not acquire jurisdiction
over the person of Manuel Toledo

In the first place, jurisdiction over the person of Manuel was never
acquired by the trial court. A defendant is informed of a case
against him when he receives summons. "Summons is a writ by
which the defendant is notified of the action brought against him.
Service of such writ is the means by which the court acquires
jurisdiction over his person."40
In the case at bar, the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over
the person of Manuel since there was no valid service of
summons upon him, precisely because he was already dead even
before the complaint against him and his wife was filed in the trial
court. The issues presented in this case are similar to those in the
case of Sarsaba v. Vda. de Te.41
In Sarsaba, the NLRC rendered a decision declaring that Patricio
Sereno was illegally dismissed from employment and ordering the
payment of his monetary claims. To satisfy the claim, a truck in the
possession of Serenos employer was levied upon by a sheriff of
the NLRC, accompanied by Sereno and his lawyer, Rogelio
Sarsaba, the petitioner in that case. A complaint for recovery of
motor vehicle and damages, with prayer for the delivery of the
truck pendente lite was eventually filed against Sarsaba, Sereno,
the NLRC sheriff and the NLRC by the registered owner of the
truck. After his motion to dismiss was denied by the trial court,
petitioner Sarsaba filed his answer. Later on, however, he filed an
omnibus motion to dismiss citing, as one of the grounds, lack of
jurisdiction over one of the principal defendants, in view of the fact
that Sereno was already dead when the complaint for recovery of
possession was filed.
Although the factual milieu of the present case is not exactly
similar to that of Sarsaba, one of the issues submitted for
resolution in both cases is similar: whether or not a case, where
one of the named defendants was already dead at the time of its
filing, should be dismissed so that the claim may be pursued
instead in the proceedings for the settlement of the estate of the
deceased defendant. The petitioner in the Sarsaba Case claimed,
as did respondent herein, that since one of the defendants died
before summons was served on him, the trial court should have
dismissed the complaint against all the defendants and the claim
should be filed against the estate of the deceased defendant. The
petitioner in Sarsaba, therefore, prayed that the complaint be
dismissed, not only against Sereno, but as to all the defendants,
considering that the RTC did not acquire jurisdiction over the

person of Sereno.42 This is exactly the same prayer made by


respondent herein in her motion to dismiss.
The Court, in the Sarsaba Case, resolved the issue in this wise:
x x x We cannot countenance petitioners argument that the
complaint against the other defendants should have been
dismissed, considering that the RTC never acquired jurisdiction
over the person of Sereno. The courts failure to acquire
jurisdiction over ones person is a defense which is personal to the
person claiming it. Obviously, it is now impossible for Sereno to
invoke the same in view of his death. Neither can petitioner invoke
such ground, on behalf of Sereno, so as to reap the benefit of
having the case dismissed against all of the defendants. Failure to
serve summons on Serenos person will not be a cause for the
dismissal of the complaint against the other defendants,
considering that they have been served with copies of the
summons and complaints and have long submitted their
respective responsive pleadings. In fact, the other defendants in
the complaint were given the chance to raise all possible defenses
and objections personal to them in their respective motions to
dismiss and their subsequent answers.43 (Emphasis supplied.)
Hence, the Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal by the trial court
of the complaint against Sereno only.
Based on the foregoing pronouncements, there is no basis for
dismissing the complaint against respondent herein. Thus, as
already emphasized above, the trial court correctly denied her
motion to dismiss.
On whether or not the estate of Manuel
Toledo is an indispensable party
Rule 3, Section 7 of the 1997 Rules of Court states:
SEC. 7. Compulsory joinder of indispensable parties. Parties-ininterest without whom no final determination can be had of an
action shall be joined either as plaintiffs or defendants.
An indispensable party is one who has such an interest in the
controversy or subject matter of a case that a final adjudication

cannot be made in his or her absence, without injuring or affecting


that interest. He or she is a party who has not only an interest in
the subject matter of the controversy, but "an interest of such
nature that a final decree cannot be made without affecting that
interest or leaving the controversy in such a condition that its final
determination may be wholly inconsistent with equity and good
conscience. It has also been considered that an indispensable
party is a person in whose absence there cannot be a
determination between the parties already before the court which
is effective, complete or equitable." Further, an indispensable
party is one who must be included in an action before it may
properly proceed.44
On the other hand, a "person is not an indispensable party if his
interest in the controversy or subject matter is separable from the
interest of the other parties, so that it will not necessarily be
directly or injuriously affected by a decree which does complete
justice between them. Also, a person is not an indispensable party
if his presence would merely permit complete relief between him
or her and those already parties to the action, or if he or she has
no interest in the subject matter of the action." It is not a sufficient
reason to declare a person to be an indispensable party simply
because his or her presence will avoid multiple litigations.45
Applying the foregoing pronouncements to the case at bar, it is
clear that the estate of Manuel is not an indispensable party to the
collection case, for the simple reason that the obligation of Manuel
and his wife, respondent herein, is solidary.
The contract between petitioner, on the one hand and respondent
and respondents husband, on the other, states:
46

FOR VALUE RECEIVED, I/We jointly and severally (in solemn)


promise to pay BOSTON EQUITY RESOURCES, INC. x x x the
sum of PESOS: [ONE MILLION FOUR HUNDRED
(P1,400,000.00)] x x x.47
The provisions and stipulations of the contract were then followed
by the respective signatures of respondent as "MAKER" and her
husband as "CO-MAKER."48 Thus, pursuant to Article 1216 of the
Civil Code, petitioner may collect the entire amount of the
obligation from respondent only. The aforementioned provision
states: "The creditor may proceed against any one of the solidary
debtors or some or all of them simultaneously. The demand made

against one of them shall not be an obstacle to those which may


subsequently be directed against the others, so long as the debt
has not been fully collected."
In other words, the collection case can proceed and the demands
of petitioner can be satisfied by respondent only, even without
impleading the estate of Manuel. Consequently, the estate of
Manuel is not an indispensable party to petitioners complaint for
sum of money.
However, the Court of Appeals, agreeing with the contention of
respondent, held that the claim of petitioner should have been
filed against the estate of Manuel in accordance with Sections 5
and 6 of Rule 86 of the Rules of Court. The aforementioned
provisions provide:
SEC. 5. Claims which must be filed under the notice. If not filed,
barred; exceptions. All claims for money against the decedent,
arising from contract, express or implied, whether the same be
due, not due, or contingent, all claims for funeral expenses and
judgment for money against the decedent, must be filed within the
time limited in the notice; otherwise, they are barred forever,
except that they may be set forth as counterclaims in any action
that the executor or administrator may bring against the claimants.
x x x.
SEC. 6. Solidary obligation of decedent. Where the obligation of
the decedent is solidary with another debtor, the claim shall be
filed against the decedent as if he were the only debtor, without
prejudice to the right of the estate to recover contribution from the
other debtor. x x x.
The Court of Appeals erred in its interpretation of the abovequoted provisions.
In construing Section 6, Rule 87 of the old Rules of Court, the
precursor of Section 6, Rule 86 of the Revised Rules of Court,
which latter provision has been retained in the present Rules of
Court without any revisions, the Supreme Court, in the case of
Manila Surety & Fidelity Co., Inc. v. Villarama, et. al.,49 held:50
Construing Section 698 of the Code of Civil Procedure from
whence [Section 6, Rule 87] was taken, this Court held that where
two persons are bound in solidum for the same debt and one of

them dies, the whole indebtedness can be proved against the


estate of the latter, the decedents liability being absolute and
primary; x x x. It is evident from the foregoing that Section 6 of
Rule 87 provides the procedure should the creditor desire to go
against the deceased debtor, but there is certainly nothing in the
said provision making compliance with such procedure a condition
precedent before an ordinary action against the surviving solidary
debtors, should the creditor choose to demand payment from the
latter, could be entertained to the extent that failure to observe the
same would deprive the court jurisdiction to take cognizance of
the action against the surviving debtors. Upon the other hand, the
Civil Code expressly allows the creditor to proceed against any
one of the solidary debtors or some or all of them simultaneously.
There is, therefore, nothing improper in the creditors filing of an
action against the surviving solidary debtors alone, instead of
instituting a proceeding for the settlement of the estate of the
deceased debtor wherein his claim could be filed.
The foregoing ruling was reiterated and expounded in the later
case of Philippine National Bank v. Asuncion51where the Supreme
Court pronounced:
A cursory perusal of Section 6, Rule 86 of the Revised Rules of
Court reveals that nothing therein prevents a creditor from
proceeding against the surviving solidary debtors. Said provision
merely sets up the procedure in enforcing collection in case a
creditor chooses to pursue his claim against the estate of the
deceased solidary debtor. The rule has been set forth that a
creditor (in a solidary obligation) has the option whether to file or
not to file a claim against the estate of the solidary debtor. x x x
xxxx
It is crystal clear that Article 1216 of the New Civil Code is the
applicable provision in this matter. Said provision gives the
creditor the right to "proceed against anyone of the solidary
debtors or some or all of them simultaneously." The choice is
undoubtedly left to the solidary creditor to determine against
whom he will enforce collection. In case of the death of one of the
solidary debtors, he (the creditor) may, if he so chooses, proceed
against the surviving solidary debtors without necessity of filing a
claim in the estate of the deceased debtors. It is not mandatory for
him to have the case dismissed as against the surviving debtors
and file its claim against the estate of the deceased solidary

debtor, x x x. For to require the creditor to proceed against the


estate, making it a condition precedent for any collection action
against the surviving debtors to prosper, would deprive him of his
substantive rightsprovided by Article 1216 of the New Civil Code.
(Emphasis supplied.)
As correctly argued by petitioner, if Section 6, Rule 86 of the
Revised Rules of Court were applied literally, Article 1216 of the
New Civil Code would, in effect, be repealed since under the
Rules of Court, petitioner has no choice but to proceed against the
estate of [the deceased debtor] only. Obviously, this provision
diminishes the [creditors] right under the New Civil Code to
proceed against any one, some or all of the solidary debtors. Such
a construction is not sanctioned by principle, which is too well
settled to require citation, that a substantive law cannot be
amended by a procedural rule. Otherwise stated, Section 6, Rule
86 of the Revised Rules of Court cannot be made to prevail over
Article 1216 of the New Civil Code, the former being merely
procedural, while the latter, substantive.
Based on the foregoing, the estate of Manuel is not an
indispensable party and the case can proceed as against
respondent only. That petitioner opted to collect from respondent
and not from the estate of Manuel is evidenced by its opposition to
respondents motion to dismiss asserting that the case, as against
her, should be dismissed so that petitioner can proceed against
the estate of Manuel.
On whether or not the inclusion of Manuel as
party defendant is a misjoinder of party
Section 11 of Rule 3 of the Rules of Court states that "neither
misjoinder nor non-joinder of parties is ground for dismissal of an
action. Parties may be dropped or added by order of the court on
motion of any party or on its own initiative at any stage of the
action and on such terms as are just. Any claim against a
misjoined party may be severed and proceeded with separately."
Based on the last sentence of the afore-quoted provision of law, a
misjoined party must have the capacity to sue or be sued in the
event that the claim by or against the misjoined party is pursued in
a separate case. In this case, therefore, the inclusion of Manuel in
the complaint cannot be considered a misjoinder, as in fact, the
action would have proceeded against him had he been alive at the

time the collection case was filed by petitioner. This being the
case, the remedy provided by Section 11 of Rule 3 does not
obtain here. The name of Manuel as party-defendant cannot
simply be dropped from the case. Instead, the procedure taken by
the Court in Sarsaba v. Vda. de Te,52 whose facts, as mentioned
earlier, resemble those of this case, should be followed herein.
There, the Supreme Court agreed with the trial court when it
resolved the issue of jurisdiction over the person of the deceased
Sereno in this wise:
As correctly pointed by defendants, the Honorable Court has not
acquired jurisdiction over the person of Patricio Sereno since
there was indeed no valid service of summons insofar as Patricio
Sereno is concerned. Patricio Sereno died before the summons,
together with a copy of the complaint and its annexes, could be
served upon him.
However, the failure to effect service of summons unto Patricio
Sereno, one of the defendants herein, does not render the action
DISMISSIBLE, considering that the three (3) other defendants, x x
x, were validly served with summons and the case with respect to
the answering defendants may still proceed independently. Be it
recalled that the three (3) answering defendants have previously
filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint which was denied by the
Court.
Hence, only the case against Patricio Sereno will be DISMISSED
and the same may be filed as a claim against the estate of
Patricio Sereno, but the case with respect to the three (3) other
accused [sic] will proceed. (Emphasis supplied.)53
As a result, the case, as against Manuel, must be dismissed.
In addition, the dismissal of the case against Manuel is further
warranted by Section 1 of Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, which
states that: only natural or juridical persons, or entities authorized
by law may be parties in a civil action." Applying this provision of
law, the Court, in the case of Ventura v. Militante,54 held:
Parties may be either plaintiffs or defendants. x x x. In order to
maintain an action in a court of justice, the plaintiff must have an
actual legal existence, that is, he, she or it must be a person in
law and possessed of a legal entity as either a natural or an

artificial person, and no suit can be lawfully prosecuted save in the


name of such a person.
The rule is no different as regards party defendants. It is
incumbent upon a plaintiff, when he institutes a judicial
proceeding, to name the proper party defendant to his cause of
action. In a suit or proceeding in personam of an adversary
character, the court can acquire no jurisdiction for the purpose of
trial or judgment until a party defendant who actually or legally
exists and is legally capable of being sued, is brought before it. It
has even been held that the question of the legal personality of a
party defendant is a question of substance going to the jurisdiction
of the court and not one of procedure.
The original complaint of petitioner named the "estate of Carlos
Ngo as represented by surviving spouse Ms. Sulpicia Ventura" as
the defendant.1wphi1 Petitioner moved to dismiss the same on
the ground that the defendant as named in the complaint had no
legal personality. We agree.
x x x. Considering that capacity to be sued is a correlative of the
capacity to sue, to the same extent, a decedent does not have the
capacity to be sued and may not be named a party defendant in a
court action. (Emphases supplied.)
Indeed, where the defendant is neither a natural nor a juridical
person or an entity authorized by law, the complaint may be
dismissed on the ground that the pleading asserting the claim
states no cause of action or for failure to state a cause of action
pursuant to Section 1(g) of Rule 16 of the Rules of Court, because
a complaint cannot possibly state a cause of action against one
who cannot be a party to a civil action.55
Since the proper course of action against the wrongful inclusion of
Manuel as party-defendant is the dismissal of the case as against
him, thus did the trial court err when it ordered the substitution of
Manuel by his heirs. Substitution is proper only where the party to
be substituted died during the pendency of the case, as expressly
provided for by Section 16, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court, which
states:
Death of party;duty of counsel. Whenever a party to a pending
action dies, and the claim is not thereby extinguished, it shall be
the duty of his counsel to inform the court within thirty (30) days

after such death of the fact thereof, and to give the name and
address of his legal representative or representatives. x x x
The heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be substituted for
the deceased, without requiring the appointment of an executor or
administrator x x x.
The court shall forthwith order said legal representative or
representatives to appear and be substituted within a period of
thirty (30) days from notice. (Emphasis supplied.)
Here, since Manuel was already dead at the time of the filing of
the complaint, the court never acquired jurisdiction over his
person and, in effect, there was no party to be substituted.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision dated 28
February 2006 and the Resolution dated 1 August 2006 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 88586 are REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. The Orders of the Regional Trial Court dated 8
November 2004 and 22 December 2004, respectively, in Civil
Case No. 97-86672, are REINSTATED. The Regional Trial Court,
Branch 24, Manila is hereby DIRECTED to proceed with the trial
of Civil Case No. 97-86672 against respondent Lolita G. Toledo
only, in accordance with the above pronouncements of the Court,
and to decide the case with dispatch.
SO ORDERED.
JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
Associate Justice

G.R. No. 168539

March 25, 2014

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
HENRY T. GO, Respondent.
DECISION
PERALTA, J.:
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the
Resolution1 of the Third Division2 of the Sandiganbayan (SB)
dated June 2, 2005 which quashed the Information filed against
herein respondent for alleged violation of Section 3 (g) of Republic
Act No. 3019 (R.A. 3019), otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act.
The Information filed against respondent is an offshoot of this
Court's Decision3 in Agan, Jr. v. Philippine International Air
Terminals Co., Inc. which nullified the various contracts awarded
by the Government, through the Department of Transportation and
Communications (DOTC), to Philippine Air Terminals, Co., Inc.
(PIATCO) for the construction, operation and maintenance of the
Ninoy Aquino International Airport International Passenger
Terminal III (NAIA IPT III). Subsequent to the above Decision, a
certain Ma. Cecilia L. Pesayco filed a complaint with the Office of
the Ombudsman against several individuals for alleged violation of
R.A. 3019. Among those charged was herein respondent, who
was then the Chairman and President of PIATCO, for having
supposedly conspired with then DOTC Secretary Arturo Enrile
(Secretary Enrile) in entering into a contract which is grossly and
manifestly disadvantageous to the government.
On September 16, 2004, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for
Luzon found probable cause to indict, among others, herein
respondent for violation of Section 3(g) of R.A. 3019. While there
was likewise a finding of probable cause against Secretary Enrile,
he was no longer indicted because he died prior to the issuance of
the resolution finding probable cause.
Thus, in an Information dated January 13, 2005, respondent was
charged before the SB as follows:

On or about July 12, 1997, or sometime prior or subsequent


thereto, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the late ARTURO ENRILE,
then Secretary of the Department of Transportation and
Communications (DOTC), committing the offense in relation to his
office and taking advantage of the same, in conspiracy with
accused, HENRY T. GO, Chairman and President of the Philippine
International Air Terminals, Co., Inc. (PIATCO), did then and there,
willfully, unlawfully and criminally enter into a Concession
Agreement, after the project for the construction of the Ninoy
Aquino International Airport International Passenger Terminal III
(NAIA IPT III) was awarded to Paircargo Consortium/PIATCO,
which Concession Agreement substantially amended the draft
Concession Agreement covering the construction of the NAIA IPT
III under Republic Act 6957, as amended by Republic Act 7718
(BOT law), specifically the provision on Public Utility Revenues, as
well as the assumption by the government of the liabilities of
PIATCO in the event of the latter's default under Article IV, Section
4.04 (b) and (c) in relation to Article 1.06 of the Concession
Agreement, which terms are more beneficial to PIATCO while
manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government of the
Republic of the Philippines.4
The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 28090.
On March 10, 2005, the SB issued an Order, to wit:
The prosecution is given a period of ten (10) days from today
within which to show cause why this case should not be dismissed
for lack of jurisdiction over the person of the accused considering
that the accused is a private person and the public official Arturo
Enrile, his alleged co-conspirator, is already deceased, and not an
accused in this case.5
The prosecution complied with the above Order contending that
the SB has already acquired jurisdiction over the person of
respondent by reason of his voluntary appearance, when he filed
a motion for consolidation and when he posted bail. The
prosecution also argued that the SB has exclusive jurisdiction
over respondent's case, even if he is a private person, because
he was alleged to have conspired with a public officer.6

On April 28, 2005, respondent filed a Motion to Quash7 the


Information filed against him on the ground that the operative facts
adduced therein do not constitute an offense under Section 3(g) of
R.A. 3019. Respondent, citing the show cause order of the SB,
also contended that, independently of the deceased Secretary
Enrile, the public officer with whom he was alleged to have
conspired, respondent, who is not a public officer nor was
capacitated by any official authority as a government agent, may
not be prosecuted for violation of Section 3(g) of R.A. 3019.
The prosecution filed its Opposition.8
On June 2, 2005, the SB issued its assailed Resolution, pertinent
portions of which read thus:
Acting on the Motion to Quash filed by accused Henry T. Go dated
April 22, 2005, and it appearing that Henry T. Go, the lone
accused in this case is a private person and his alleged coconspirator-public official was already deceased long before this
case was filed in court, for lack of jurisdiction over the person of
the accused, the Court grants the Motion to Quash and the
Information filed in this case is hereby ordered quashed and
dismissed.9
Hence, the instant petition raising the following issues, to wit:
I
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED
AND DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A MANNER
NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW OR APPLICABLE
JURISPRUDENCE IN GRANTING THE DEMURRER TO
EVIDENCE AND IN DISMISSING CRIMINAL CASE NO. 28090
ON THE GROUND THAT IT HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER THE
PERSON OF RESPONDENT GO.
II
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED
AND DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A MANNER
NOT IN ACCORD WITH LAW OR APPLICABLE
JURISPRUDENCE, IN RULING THAT IT HAS NO

JURISDICTION OVER THE PERSON OF RESPONDENT GO


DESPITE THE IRREFUTABLE FACT THAT HE HAS ALREADY
POSTED BAIL FOR HIS PROVISIONAL LIBERTY
III
WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED
WHEN, IN COMPLETE DISREGARD OF THE EQUAL
PROTECTION CLAUSE OF THE CONSTITUTION, IT QUASHED
THE INFORMATION AND DISMISSED CRIMINAL CASE NO.
2809010
The Court finds the petition meritorious.
Section 3 (g) of R.A. 3019 provides:
Sec. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. In addition to acts or
omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the
following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and
are hereby declared to be unlawful:
xxxx
(g) Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or
transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same,
whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.
The elements of the above provision are:
(1) that the accused is a public officer;
(2) that he entered into a contract or transaction on
behalf of the government; and
(3) that such contract or transaction is grossly and
manifestly disadvantageous to the government.11
At the outset, it bears to reiterate the settled rule that private
persons, when acting in conspiracy with public officers, may be
indicted and, if found guilty, held liable for the pertinent offenses
under Section 3 of R.A. 3019, in consonance with the avowed
policy of the anti-graft law to repress certain acts of public officers
and private persons alike constituting graft or corrupt practices act

or which may lead thereto.12 This is the controlling doctrine as


enunciated by this Court in previous cases, among which is a
case involving herein private respondent.13
The only question that needs to be settled in the present petition
is whether herein respondent, a private person, may be indicted
for conspiracy in violating Section 3(g) of R.A. 3019 even if the
public officer, with whom he was alleged to have conspired, has
died prior to the filing of the Information.
Respondent contends that by reason of the death of Secretary
Enrile, there is no public officer who was charged in the
Information and, as such, prosecution against respondent may not
prosper.
The Court is not persuaded.
It is true that by reason of Secretary Enrile's death, there is no
longer any public officer with whom respondent can be charged
for violation of R.A. 3019. It does not mean, however, that the
allegation of conspiracy between them can no longer be proved or
that their alleged conspiracy is already expunged. The only thing
extinguished by the death of Secretary Enrile is his criminal
liability. His death did not extinguish the crime nor did it remove
the basis of the charge of conspiracy between him and private
respondent. Stated differently, the death of Secretary Enrile does
not mean that there was no public officer who allegedly violated
Section 3 (g) of R.A. 3019. In fact, the Office of the Deputy
Ombudsman for Luzon found probable cause to indict Secretary
Enrile for infringement of Sections 3 (e) and (g) of R.A.
3019.14 Were it not for his death, he should have been charged.
The requirement before a private person may be indicted for
violation of Section 3(g) of R.A. 3019, among others, is that such
private person must be alleged to have acted in conspiracy with a
public officer. The law, however, does not require that such person
must, in all instances, be indicted together with the public officer. If
circumstances exist where the public officer may no longer be
charged in court, as in the present case where the public officer
has already died, the private person may be indicted alone.
Indeed, it is not necessary to join all alleged co-conspirators in an
indictment for conspiracy.15 If two or more persons enter into a
conspiracy, any act done by any of them pursuant to the

agreement is, in contemplation of law, the act of each of them and


they are jointly responsible therefor.16 This means that everything
said, written or done by any of the conspirators in execution or
furtherance of the common purpose is deemed to have been said,
done, or written by each of them and it makes no difference
whether the actual actor is alive or dead, sane or insane at the
time of trial.17 The death of one of two or more conspirators does
not prevent the conviction of the survivor or survivors.18 Thus, this
Court held that:
x x x [a] conspiracy is in its nature a joint offense. One person
cannot conspire alone. The crime depends upon the joint act or
intent of two or more persons. Yet, it does not follow that one
person cannot be convicted of conspiracy. So long as the acquittal
or death of a co-conspirator does not remove the bases of a
charge for conspiracy, one defendant may be found guilty of the
offense.19
The Court agrees with petitioner's contention that, as alleged in
the Information filed against respondent, which is deemed
hypothetically admitted in the latter's Motion to Quash, he
(respondent) conspired with Secretary Enrile in violating Section 3
(g) of R.A. 3019 and that in conspiracy, the act of one is the act of
all. Hence, the criminal liability incurred by a co-conspirator is also
incurred by the other co-conspirators.
Moreover, the Court agrees with petitioner that the avowed policy
of the State and the legislative intent to repress "acts of public
officers and private persons alike, which constitute graft or corrupt
practices,"20 would be frustrated if the death of a public officer
would bar the prosecution of a private person who conspired with
such public officer in violating the Anti-Graft Law.
In this regard, this Court's disquisition in the early case of People
v. Peralta21 as to the nature of and the principles governing
conspiracy, as construed under Philippine jurisdiction, is
instructive, to wit:
x x x A conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an
agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to
commit it. Generally, conspiracy is not a crime except when the
law specifically provides a penalty therefor as in treason, rebellion
and sedition. The crime of conspiracy known to the common law
is not an indictable offense in the Philippines. An agreement to

commit a crime is a reprehensible act from the view-point of


morality, but as long as the conspirators do not perform overt acts
in furtherance of their malevolent design, the sovereignty of the
State is not outraged and the tranquility of the public remains
undisturbed.
However, when in resolute execution of a common scheme, a
felony is committed by two or more malefactors, the existence of a
conspiracy assumes pivotal importance in the determination of the
liability of the perpetrators. In stressing the significance of
conspiracy in criminal law, this Court in U.S. vs. Infante and
Barreto opined that
While it is true that the penalties cannot be imposed for the mere
act of conspiring to commit a crime unless the statute specifically
prescribes a penalty therefor, nevertheless the existence of a
conspiracy to commit a crime is in many cases a fact of vital
importance, when considered together with the other evidence of
record, in establishing the existence, of the consummated crime
and its commission by the conspirators.
Once an express or implied conspiracy is proved, all of the
conspirators are liable as co-principals regardless of the extent
and character of their respective active participation in the
commission of the crime or crimes perpetrated in furtherance of
the conspiracy because in contemplation of law the act of one is
the act of all. The foregoing rule is anchored on the sound
principle that "when two or more persons unite to accomplish a
criminal object, whether through the physical volition of one, or all,
proceeding severally or collectively, each individual whose evil will
actively contributes to the wrong-doing is in law responsible for
the whole, the same as though performed by himself alone."
Although it is axiomatic that no one is liable for acts other than his
own, "when two or more persons agree or conspire to commit a
crime, each is responsible for all the acts of the others, done in
furtherance of the agreement or conspiracy." The imposition of
collective liability upon the conspirators is clearly explained in one
case where this Court held that x x x it is impossible to graduate
the separate liability of each (conspirator) without taking into
consideration the close and inseparable relation of each of them
with the criminal act, for the commission of which they all acted by
common agreement x x x. The crime must therefore in view of the
solidarity of the act and intent which existed between the x x x

accused, be regarded as the act of the band or party created by


them, and they are all equally responsible x x x
Verily, the moment it is established that the malefactors conspired
and confederated in the commission of the felony proved,
collective liability of the accused conspirators attaches by reason
of the conspiracy, and the court shall not speculate nor even
investigate as to the actual degree of participation of each of the
perpetrators present at the scene of the crime. Of course, as to
any conspirator who was remote from the situs of aggression, he
could be drawn within the enveloping ambit of the conspiracy if it
be proved that through his moral ascendancy over the rest of the
conspirators the latter were moved or impelled to carry out the
conspiracy.
In fine, the convergence of the wills of the conspirators in the
scheming and execution of the crime amply justifies the
imputation to all of them the act of any one of them. It is in this
light that conspiracy is generally viewed not as a separate
indictable offense, but a rule for collectivizing criminal liability.
xxxx
x x x A time-honored rule in the corpus of our jurisprudence is that
once conspiracy is proved, all of the conspirators who acted in
furtherance of the common design are liable as co-principals. This
rule of collective criminal liability emanates from the ensnaring
nature of conspiracy. The concerted action of the conspirators in
consummating their common purpose is a patent display of their
evil partnership, and for the consequences of such criminal
enterprise they must be held solidarily liable.22
This is not to say, however, that private respondent should be
found guilty of conspiring with Secretary Enrile. It is settled that
the absence or presence of conspiracy is factual in nature and
involves evidentiary matters.23 Hence, the allegation of conspiracy
against respondent is better left ventilated before the trial court
during trial, where respondent can adduce evidence to prove or
disprove its presence.
Respondent claims in his Manifestation and Motion24 as well as in
his Urgent Motion to Resolve25 that in a different case, he was
likewise indicted before the SB for conspiracy with the late
Secretary Enrile in violating the same Section 3 (g) of R.A. 3019

by allegedly entering into another agreement (Side Agreement)


which is separate from the Concession Agreement subject of the
present case. The case was docketed as Criminal Case No.
28091. Here, the SB, through a Resolution, granted respondent's
motion to quash the Information on the ground that the SB has no
jurisdiction over the person of respondent. The prosecution
questioned the said SB Resolution before this Court via a petition
for review on certiorari. The petition was docketed as G.R. No.
168919. In a minute resolution dated August 31, 2005, this Court
denied the petition finding no reversible error on the part of the
SB. This Resolution became final and executory on January 11,
2006. Respondent now argues that this Court's resolution in G.R.
No. 168919 should be applied in the instant case.
The Court does not agree. Respondent should be reminded that
prior to this Court's ruling in G.R. No. 168919, he already posted
bail for his provisional liberty. In fact, he even filed a Motion for
Consolidation26 in Criminal Case No. 28091. The Court agrees
with petitioner's contention that private respondent's act of posting
bail and filing his Motion for Consolidation vests the SB with
jurisdiction over his person. The rule is well settled that the act of
an accused in posting bail or in filing motions seeking affirmative
relief is tantamount to submission of his person to the jurisdiction
of the court.27
Thus, it has been held that:
When a defendant in a criminal case is brought before a
competent court by virtue of a warrant of arrest or otherwise, in
order to avoid the submission of his body to the jurisdiction of the
court he must raise the question of the courts jurisdiction over his
person at the very earliest opportunity. If he gives bail, demurs to
the complaint or files any dilatory plea or pleads to the merits, he
thereby gives the court jurisdiction over his person. (State ex rel.
John Brown vs. Fitzgerald, 51 Minn., 534)
xxxx
As ruled in La Naval Drug vs. CA [236 SCRA 78, 86]:
"[L]ack of jurisdiction over the person of the defendant may be
waived either expressly or impliedly. When a defendant voluntarily
appears, he is deemed to have submitted himself to the
jurisdiction of the court. If he so wishes not to waive this defense,

he must do so seasonably by motion for the purpose of objecting


to the jurisdiction of the court; otherwise, he shall be deemed to
have submitted himself to that jurisdiction."

on the law defining its jurisdiction but on other factors, such as the
death of one of the alleged offenders.

Moreover, "[w]here the appearance is by motion for the purpose of


objecting to the jurisdiction of the court over the person, it must be
for the sole and separate purpose of objecting to said jurisdiction.
If the appearance is for any other purpose, the defendant is
deemed to have submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court.
Such an appearance gives the court jurisdiction over the person."

Lastly, the issues raised in the present petition involve matters


which are mere incidents in the main case and the main case has
already been pending for over nine (9) years. Thus, a referral of
the case to the Regional Trial Court would further delay the
resolution of the main case and it would, by no means, promote
respondent's right to a speedy trial and a speedy disposition of his
case.

Verily, petitioners participation in the proceedings before the


Sandiganbayan was not confined to his opposition to the issuance
of a warrant of arrest but also covered other matters which called
for respondent courts exercise of its jurisdiction. Petitioner may
not be heard now to deny said courts jurisdiction over him. x x x.28

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolution of the


Sandiganbayan dated June 2, 2005, granting respondent's Motion
to Quash, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
Sandiganbayan is forthwith DIRECTED to proceed with deliberate
dispatch in the disposition of Criminal Case No. 28090.

In the instant case, respondent did not make any special


appearance to question the jurisdiction of the SB over his person
prior to his posting of bail and filing his Motion for Consolidation.
In fact, his Motion to Quash the Information in Criminal Case No.
28090 only came after the SB issued an Order requiring the
prosecution to show cause why the case should not be dismissed
for lack of jurisdiction over his person.

SO ORDERED.

As a recapitulation, it would not be amiss to point out that the


instant case involves a contract entered into by public officers
representing the government. More importantly, the SB is a
special criminal court which has exclusive original jurisdiction in all
cases involving violations of R.A. 3019 committed by certain
public officers, as enumerated in P.D. 1606 as amended by R.A.
8249. This includes private individuals who are charged as coprincipals, accomplices or accessories with the said public
officers. In the instant case, respondent is being charged for
violation of Section 3(g) of R.A. 3019, in conspiracy with then
Secretary Enrile. Ideally, under the law, both respondent and
Secretary Enrile should have been charged before and tried jointly
by the Sandiganbayan. However, by reason of the death of the
latter, this can no longer be done. Nonetheless, for reasons
already discussed, it does not follow that the SB is already
divested of its jurisdiction over the person of and the case
involving herein respondent. To rule otherwise would mean that
the power of a court to decide a case would no longer be based

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

G.R. No. 175723

February 4, 2014

THE CITY OF MANILA, represented by MAYOR JOSE L.


ATIENZA, JR., and MS. LIBERTY M. TOLEDO, in her capacity
as the City Treasurer of Manila, Petitioners,
vs.
HON. CARIDAD H. GRECIA-CUERDO, in her capacity as
Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 112,
Pasay City; SM MART, INC.; SM PRIME HOLDINGS, INC.;
STAR APPLIANCES CENTER; SUPERVALUE, INC.; ACE
HARDWARE PHILIPPINES, INC.; WATSON PERSONAL CARE
STORES, PHILS., INC.; JOLLIMART PHILS., CORP.; SURPLUS
MARKETING CORPORATION and SIGNATURE
LINES,Respondents.
DECISION

On January 24, 2004, private respondents filed [with the Regional


Trial Court of Pasay City] the complaint denominated as one for
"Refund or Recovery of Illegally and/or Erroneously-Collected
Local Business Tax, Prohibition with Prayer to Issue TRO and Writ
of Preliminary Injunction"
which was docketed as Civil Case No. 04-0019-CFM before public
respondent's sala [at Branch 112]. In the amended complaint they
filed on February 16, 2004, private respondents alleged that, in
relation to Section 21 thereof, Sections 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and
20 of the RRCM were violative of the limitations and guidelines
under Section 143 (h) of Republic Act. No. 7160 [Local
Government Code] on double taxation. They further averred that
petitioner city's Ordinance No. 8011 which amended pertinent
portions of the RRCM had already been declared to be illegal and
unconstitutional by the Department of Justice.2

PERALTA, J.:

In its Order3 dated July 9, 2004, the RTC granted private


respondents' application for a writ of preliminary injunction.

Before the Court is a special civil action for certiorari under Rule
65 of the Rules of Court seeking to reverse and set aside the
Resolutions1 dated April 6, 2006 and November 29, 2006 of the
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 87948.

Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration4 but the RTC denied


it in its Order5 dated October 15, 2004.

The antecedents of the case, as summarized by the CA, are as


follows:
The record shows that petitioner City of Manila, through its
treasurer, petitioner Liberty Toledo, assessed taxes for the taxable
period from January to December 2002 against private
respondents SM Mart, Inc., SM Prime Holdings, Inc., Star
Appliances Center, Supervalue, Inc., Ace Hardware Philippines,
Inc., Watsons Personal Care Stores Phils., Inc., Jollimart
Philippines Corp., Surplus Marketing Corp. and Signature Lines.
In addition to the taxes purportedly due from private respondents
pursuant to Section 14, 15, 16, 17 of the Revised Revenue Code
of Manila (RRCM), said assessment covered the local business
taxes petitioners were authorized to collect under Section 21 of
the same Code. Because payment of the taxes assessed was a
precondition for the issuance of their business permits, private
respondents were constrained to pay the P19,316,458.77
assessment under protest.

Petitioners then filed a special civil action for certiorari with the CA
assailing the July 9, 2004 and October 15, 2004 Orders of the
RTC.6
In its Resolution promulgated on April 6, 2006, the CA dismissed
petitioners' petition for certiorari holding that it has no jurisdiction
over the said petition. The CA ruled that since appellate
jurisdiction over private respondents' complaint for tax refund,
which was filed with the RTC, is vested in the Court of Tax
Appeals (CTA), pursuant to its expanded jurisdiction under
Republic Act No. 9282 (RA 9282), it follows that a petition for
certiorari seeking nullification of an interlocutory order issued in
the said case should, likewise, be filed with the CTA.
Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration,7 but the CA denied
it in its Resolution dated November 29, 2006.
Hence, the present petition raising the following issues:
I- Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals gravely
erred in dismissing the case for lack of jurisdiction.

II- Whether or not the Honorable Regional Trial Court


gravely abuse[d] its discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction in enjoining by issuing a Writ of
Injunction the petitioners, their agents and/or authorized
representatives from implementing Section 21 of the
Revised Revenue Code of Manila, as amended, against
private respondents.
III- Whether or not the Honorable Regional Trial Court
gravely abuse[d] its discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction in issuing the Writ of Injunction
despite failure of private respondents to make a written
claim for tax credit or refund with the City Treasurer of
Manila.
IV- Whether or not the Honorable Regional Trial Court
gravely abuse[d] its discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction considering that under Section 21
of the Manila Revenue Code, as amended, they are
mere collecting agents of the City Government.
V- Whether or not the Honorable Regional Trial Court
gravely abuse[d] its discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction in issuing the Writ of Injunction
because petitioner City of Manila and its constituents
would result to greater damage and prejudice thereof.
(sic)8
Without first resolving the above issues, this Court finds that the
instant petition should be denied for being moot and academic.
Upon perusal of the original records of the instant case, this Court
discovered that a Decision9 in the main case had already been
rendered by the RTC on August 13, 2007, the dispositive portion
of which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, this Court hereby renders
JUDGMENT in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant to
grant a tax refund or credit for taxes paid pursuant to Section 21
of the Revenue Code of the City of Manila as amended for the
year 2002 in the following amounts:
To plaintiff SM Mart, Inc.

P
11,462,525.02

To plaintiff SM Prime Holdings, Inc.


To plaintiff Star Appliances Center
To plaintiff Supervalue, Inc.
To plaintiff Ace Hardware Phils., Inc.
To plaintiff Watsons Personal Care
Health
Stores Phils., Inc.
To plaintiff Jollimart Phils., Corp.
To plaintiff Surplus Marketing Corp.
To plaintiff Signature Mktg. Corp.
TOTAL:

3,118,104.63
2,152,316.54
1,362,750.34
419,689.04
231,453.62

140,908.54
220,204.70
94,906.34
P
19,316,458.77
Defendants are further enjoined from collecting taxes under
Section 21, Revenue Code of Manila from herein plaintiff.
SO ORDERED.10
The parties did not inform the Court but based on the records, the
above Decision had already become final and executory per the
Certificate of Finality11 issued by the same trial court on October
20, 2008. In fact, a Writ of Execution12 was issued by the RTC on
November 25, 2009. In view of the foregoing, it clearly appears
that the issues raised in the present petition, which merely involve
the incident on the preliminary injunction issued by the RTC, have
already become moot and academic considering that the trial
court, in its decision on the merits in the main case, has already
ruled in favor of respondents and that the same decision is now
final and executory. Well entrenched is the rule that where the
issues have become moot and academic, there is no justiciable
controversy, thereby rendering the resolution of the same of no
practical use or value.13
In any case, the Court finds it necessary to resolve the issue on
jurisdiction raised by petitioners owing to its significance and for
future guidance of both bench and bar. It is a settled principle that
courts will decide a question otherwise moot and academic if it is
capable of repetition, yet evading review.14
However, before proceeding, to resolve the question on
jurisdiction, the Court deems it proper to likewise address a
procedural error which petitioners committed.
Petitioners availed of the wrong remedy when they filed the
instant special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules
of Court in assailing the Resolutions of the CA which dismissed

their petition filed with the said court and their motion for
reconsideration of such dismissal. There is no dispute that the
assailed Resolutions of the CA are in the nature of a final order as
they disposed of the petition completely. It is settled that in cases
where an assailed judgment or order is considered final, the
remedy of the aggrieved party is appeal. Hence, in the instant
case, petitioner should have filed a petition for review on certiorari
under Rule 45, which is a continuation of the appellate process
over the original case.15
Petitioners should be reminded of the equally-settled rule that a
special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 is an original or
independent action based on grave abuse of discretion amounting
to lack or excess of jurisdiction and it will lie only if there is no
appeal or any other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the
ordinary course of law.16 As such, it cannot be a substitute for a
lost appeal.17
Nonetheless, in accordance with the liberal spirit pervading the
Rules of Court and in the interest of substantial justice, this Court
has, before, treated a petition for certiorari as a petition for review
on certiorari, particularly (1) if the petition for certiorari was filed
within the reglementary period within which to file a petition for
review on certiorari; (2) when errors of judgment are averred; and
(3) when there is sufficient reason to justify the relaxation of the
rules.18 Considering that the present petition was filed within the
15-day reglementary period for filing a petition for review on
certiorari under Rule 45, that an error of judgment is averred, and
because of the significance of the issue on jurisdiction, the Court
deems it proper and justified to relax the rules and, thus, treat the
instant petition for certiorari as a petition for review on certiorari.
Having disposed of the procedural aspect, we now turn to the
central issue in this case. The basic question posed before this
Court is whether or not the CTA has jurisdiction over a special civil
action for certiorari assailing an interlocutory order issued by the
RTC in a local tax case.
This Court rules in the affirmative.
On June 16, 1954, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 1125 (RA
1125) creating the CTA and giving to the said court jurisdiction
over the following:

(1) Decisions of the Collector of Internal Revenue in


cases involving disputed assessments, refunds of
internal revenue taxes, fees or other charges, penalties
imposed in relation thereto, or other matters arising
under the National Internal Revenue Code or other law
or part of law administered by the Bureau of Internal
Revenue;
(2) Decisions of the Commissioner of Customs in cases
involving liability for customs duties, fees or other money
charges; seizure, detention or release of property
affected fines, forfeitures or other penalties imposed in
relation thereto; or other matters arising under the
Customs Law or other law or part of law administered by
the Bureau of Customs; and
(3) Decisions of provincial or City Boards of Assessment
Appeals in cases involving the assessment and taxation
of real property or other matters arising under the
Assessment Law, including rules and regulations relative
thereto.
On March 30, 2004, the Legislature passed into law Republic Act
No. 9282 (RA 9282) amending RA 1125 by expanding the
jurisdiction of the CTA, enlarging its membership and elevating its
rank to the level of a collegiate court with special jurisdiction.
Pertinent portions of the amendatory act provides thus:
Sec. 7. Jurisdiction. - The CTA shall exercise:
a. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review by appeal, as herein
provided:
1. Decisions of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in
cases involving disputed assessments, refunds of
internal revenue taxes, fees or other charges, penalties
in relation thereto, or other matters arising under the
National Internal Revenue or other laws administered by
the Bureau of Internal Revenue;
2. Inaction by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue in
cases involving disputed assessments, refunds of
internal revenue taxes, fees or other charges, penalties
in relations thereto, or other matters arising under the

National Internal Revenue Code or other laws


administered by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, where
the National Internal Revenue Code provides a specific
period of action, in which case the inaction shall be
deemed a denial;
3. Decisions, orders or resolutions of the Regional Trial
Courts in local tax cases originally decided or resolved
by them in the exercise of their original or appellate
jurisdiction;
4. Decisions of the Commissioner of Customs in cases
involving liability for customs duties, fees or other money
charges, seizure, detention or release of property
affected, fines, forfeitures or other penalties in relation
thereto, or other matters arising under the Customs Law
or other laws administered by the Bureau of Customs;
5. Decisions of the Central Board of Assessment Appeals
in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction over cases
involving the assessment and taxation of real property
originally decided by the provincial or city board of
assessment appeals;
6. Decisions of the Secretary of Finance on customs
cases elevated to him automatically for review from
decisions of the Commissioner of Customs which are
adverse to the Government under Section 2315 of the
Tariff and Customs Code;
7. Decisions of the Secretary of Trade and Industry, in
the case of nonagricultural product, commodity or article,
and the Secretary of Agriculture in the case of
agricultural product, commodity or article, involving
dumping and countervailing duties under Section 301
and 302, respectively, of the Tariff and Customs Code,
and safeguard measures under Republic Act No. 8800,
where either party may appeal the decision to impose or
not to impose said duties.
b. Jurisdiction over cases involving criminal offenses as herein
provided:

1. Exclusive original jurisdiction over all criminal offenses


arising from violations of the National Internal Revenue
Code or Tariff and Customs Code and other laws
administered by the Bureau of Internal Revenue or the
Bureau of Customs: Provided, however, That offenses or
felonies mentioned in this paragraph where the principal
amount of taxes and fees, exclusive of charges and
penalties, claimed is less than One million pesos
(P1,000,000.00) or where there is no specified amount
claimed shall be tried by the regular Courts and the
jurisdiction of the CTA shall be appellate. Any provision of
law or the Rules of Court to the contrary notwithstanding,
the criminal action and the corresponding civil action for
the recovery of civil liability for taxes and penalties shall
at all times be simultaneously instituted with, and jointly
determined in the same proceeding by the CTA, the filing
of the criminal action being deemed to necessarily carry
with it the filing of the civil action, and no right to reserve
the filing of such civil action separately from the criminal
action will be recognized.
2. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction in criminal offenses:
a. Over appeals from the judgments, resolutions or orders of the
Regional Trial Courts in tax cases originally decided by them, in
their respected territorial jurisdiction.
b. Over petitions for review of the judgments, resolutions or orders
of the Regional Trial Courts in the exercise of their appellate
jurisdiction over tax cases originally decided by the Metropolitan
Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts in their respective jurisdiction.
c. Jurisdiction over tax collection cases as herein provided:
1. Exclusive original jurisdiction in tax collection cases
involving final and executory assessments for taxes,
fees, charges and penalties: Provides, however, that
collection cases where the principal amount of taxes and
fees, exclusive of charges and penalties, claimed is less
than One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) shall be tried by
the proper Municipal Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court
and Regional Trial Court.

2. Exclusive appellate jurisdiction in tax collection cases:


a. Over appeals from the judgments, resolutions or orders of the
Regional Trial Courts in tax collection cases originally decided by
them, in their respective territorial jurisdiction.
b. Over petitions for review of the judgments, resolutions or orders
of the Regional Trial Courts in the Exercise of their appellate
jurisdiction over tax collection cases originally decided by the
Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal
Circuit Trial Courts, in their respective jurisdiction.19
A perusal of the above provisions would show that, while it is
clearly stated that the CTA has exclusive appellate jurisdiction
over decisions, orders or resolutions of the RTCs in local tax
cases originally decided or resolved by them in the exercise of
their original or appellate jurisdiction, there is no categorical
statement under RA 1125 as well as the amendatory RA 9282,
which provides that th e CTA has jurisdiction over petitions for
certiorari assailing interlocutory orders issued by the RTC in local
tax cases filed before it.
The prevailing doctrine is that the authority to issue writs of
certiorari involves the exercise of original jurisdiction which must
be expressly conferred by the Constitution or by law and cannot
be implied from the mere existence of appellate
jurisdiction.20 Thus, in the cases of Pimentel v.
COMELEC,21 Garcia v. De Jesus,22 Veloria v.
COMELEC,23 Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board
v. Lubrica,24 and Garcia v. Sandiganbayan,25this Court has ruled
against the jurisdiction of courts or tribunals over petitions for
certiorari on the ground that there is no law which expressly gives
these tribunals such power.26 It must be observed, however, that
with the exception of Garcia v. Sandiganbayan,27 these rulings
pertain not to regular courts but to tribunals exercising quasijudicial powers. With respect to the Sandiganbayan, Republic Act
No. 824928 now provides that the special criminal court has
exclusive original jurisdiction over petitions for the issuance of the
writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus,
injunctions, and other ancillary writs and processes in aid of its
appellate jurisdiction.
In the same manner, Section 5 (1), Article VIII of the 1987
Constitution grants power to the Supreme Court, in the exercise of

its original jurisdiction, to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition and


mandamus. With respect to the Court of Appeals, Section 9 (1) of
Batas Pambansa Blg. 129 (BP 129) gives the appellate court, also
in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, the power to issue,
among others, a writ of certiorari,whether or not in aid of its
appellate jurisdiction. As to Regional Trial Courts, the power to
issue a writ of certiorari, in the exercise of their original
jurisdiction, is provided under Section 21 of BP 129.
The foregoing notwithstanding, while there is no express grant of
such power, with respect to the CTA, Section 1, Article VIII of the
1987 Constitution provides, nonetheless, that judicial power shall
be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may
be established by law and that judicial power includes the duty of
the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights
which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine
whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any
branch or instrumentality of the Government.
On the strength of the above constitutional provisions, it can be
fairly interpreted that the power of the CTA includes that of
determining whether or not there has been grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of
the RTC in issuing an interlocutory order in cases falling within the
exclusive appellate jurisdiction of the tax court. It, thus, follows
that the CTA, by constitutional mandate, is vested with jurisdiction
to issue writs of certiorari in these cases.
Indeed, in order for any appellate court to effectively exercise its
appellate jurisdiction, it must have the authority to issue, among
others, a writ of certiorari. In transferring exclusive jurisdiction over
appealed tax cases to the CTA, it can reasonably be assumed
that the law intended to transfer also such power as is deemed
necessary, if not indispensable, in aid of such appellate
jurisdiction. There is no perceivable reason why the transfer
should only be considered as partial, not total.
Consistent with the above pronouncement, this Court has held as
early as the case of J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Jaramillo, et
al.29 that "if a case may be appealed to a particular court or judicial
tribunal or body, then said court or judicial tribunal or body has
jurisdiction to issue the extraordinary writ of certiorari, in aid of its
appellate jurisdiction."30 This principle was affirmed in De Jesus v.

Court of Appeals,31 where the Court stated that "a court may issue
a writ of certiorari in aid of its appellate jurisdiction if said court has
jurisdiction to review, by appeal or writ of error, the final orders or
decisions of the lower court."32 The rulings in J.M. Tuason and De
Jesus were reiterated in the more recent cases of Galang, Jr. v.
Geronimo33 and Bulilis v. Nuez.34
Furthermore, Section 6, Rule 135 of the present Rules of Court
provides that when by law, jurisdiction is conferred on a court or
judicial officer, all auxiliary writs, processes and other means
necessary to carry it into effect may be employed by such court or
officer.
If this Court were to sustain petitioners' contention that jurisdiction
over their certiorari petition lies with the CA, this Court would be
confirming the exercise by two judicial bodies, the CA and the
CTA, of jurisdiction over basically the same subject matter
precisely the split-jurisdiction situation which is anathema to the
orderly administration of justice.35 The Court cannot accept that
such was the legislative motive, especially considering that the
law expressly confers on the CTA, the tribunal with the specialized
competence over tax and tariff matters, the role of judicial review
over local tax cases without mention of any other court that may
exercise such power. Thus, the Court agrees with the ruling of the
CA that since appellate jurisdiction over private respondents'
complaint for tax refund is vested in the CTA, it follows that a
petition for certiorari seeking nullification of an interlocutory order
issued in the said case should, likewise, be filed with the same
court. To rule otherwise would lead to an absurd situation where
one court decides an appeal in the main case while another court
rules on an incident in the very same case.
Stated differently, it would be somewhat incongruent with the
pronounced judicial abhorrence to split jurisdiction to conclude
that the intention of the law is to divide the authority over a local
tax case filed with the RTC by giving to the CA or this Court
jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari against interlocutory orders
of the RTC but giving to the CTA the jurisdiction over the appeal
from the decision of the trial court in the same case. It is more in
consonance with logic and legal soundness to conclude that the
grant of appellate jurisdiction to the CTA over tax cases filed in
and decided by the RTC carries with it the power to issue a writ of
certiorari when necessary in aid of such appellate jurisdiction. The
supervisory power or jurisdiction of the CTA to issue a writ of

certiorari in aid of its appellate jurisdiction should co-exist with,


and be a complement to, its appellate jurisdiction to review, by
appeal, the final orders and decisions of the RTC, in order to have
complete supervision over the acts of the latter.36
A grant of appellate jurisdiction implies that there is included in it
the power necessary to exercise it effectively, to make all orders
that will preserve the subject of the action, and to give effect to the
final determination of the appeal. It carries with it the power to
protect that jurisdiction and to make the decisions of the court
thereunder effective. The court, in aid of its appellate jurisdiction,
has authority to control all auxiliary and incidental matters
necessary to the efficient and proper exercise of that
jurisdiction.1wphi1 For this purpose, it may, when necessary,
prohibit or restrain the performance of any act which might
interfere with the proper exercise of its rightful jurisdiction in cases
pending before it.37
Lastly, it would not be amiss to point out that a court which is
endowed with a particular jurisdiction should have powers which
are necessary to enable it to act effectively within such
jurisdiction. These should be regarded as powers which are
inherent in its jurisdiction and the court must possess them in
order to enforce its rules of practice and to suppress any abuses
of its process and to defeat any attempted thwarting of such
process.
In this regard, Section 1 of RA 9282 states that the CTA shall be of
the same level as the CA and shall possess all the inherent
powers of a court of justice.
Indeed, courts possess certain inherent powers which may be
said to be implied from a general grant of jurisdiction, in addition
to those expressly conferred on them. These inherent powers are
such powers as are necessary for the ordinary and efficient
exercise of jurisdiction; or are essential to the existence, dignity
and functions of the courts, as well as to the due administration of
justice; or are directly appropriate, convenient and suitable to the
execution of their granted powers; and include the power to
maintain the court's jurisdiction and render it effective in behalf of
the litigants.38
Thus, this Court has held that "while a court may be expressly
granted the incidental powers necessary to effectuate its

jurisdiction, a grant of jurisdiction, in the absence of prohibitive


legislation, implies the necessary and usual incidental powers
essential to effectuate it, and, subject to existing laws and
constitutional provisions, every regularly constituted court has
power to do all things that are reasonably necessary for the
administration of justice within the scope of its jurisdiction and for
the enforcement of its judgments and mandates."39 Hence,
demands, matters or questions ancillary or incidental to, or
growing out of, the main action, and coming within the above
principles, may be taken cognizance of by the court and
determined, since such jurisdiction is in aid of its authority over the
principal matter, even though the court may thus be called on to
consider and decide matters which, as original causes of action,
would not be within its cognizance.40

Based on the foregoing disquisitions, it can be reasonably


concluded that the authority of the CTA to take cognizance of
petitions for certiorari questioning interlocutory orders issued by
the RTC in a local tax case is included in the powers granted by
the Constitution as well as inherent in the exercise of its appellate
jurisdiction.
Finally, it would bear to point out that this Court is not abandoning
the rule that, insofar as quasi-judicial tribunals are concerned, the
authority to issue writs of certiorari must still be expressly
conferred by the Constitution or by law and cannot be implied
from the mere existence of their appellate jurisdiction. This
doctrine remains as it applies only to quasi-judicial bodies.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.


SO ORDERED.
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice