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ATWEL v CONCEPCION PROGRESSIVE ASSOC INC

Doctrine: Estoppel does not confer jurisdiction on a tribunal that has none
over the cause of action or subject matter of the case. It is neither fair nor legal
to bind a party to the result of a suit or proceeding in a court with no jurisdiction.
The decision of a tribunal not vested with the appropriate jurisdiction is null and
void.

Assemblyman Melgazo founded & organized Concepcion Progressive Association


(CPA) in Leyte. It aimed to provide livelihood and generate income for its
supporters.
Melgazo was elected president. He bought a parcel of land in behalf of the
association, which was later on converted into a wet market and cockpit. The
income generated, mostly rentals from the market, was paid to CPA.
When Melgazo died, his son, petitioner Manuel, succeeded him as president and
admin of the property. On the other hand, petitioners Atwel and Pilpil were likewise
elected as VP and Treasurer.
In the process of registering as a stock corporation, its other elected officers formed
their own group and registered themselves in the SEC as Concepcion Progressive
Association Incorporated (CPAI). Petitioners were not listed as officers nor
members.
Later, CPAI objected to petitioners collection of rentals from the market.
CPAI filed a case w/ SEC for injunction. With the passage of RA 8799 (Securities
Regulation Code), the case was transferred to RTC Leyte then later to RTC Tacloban.
Both were special commercial courts.
CPAI alleged that it was the rightful owner. Petitioners refuted by saying that it was
impossible for CPAI to have acquired ownership over the property in 1968 because
only in 1997 was it incorporated.

RTC ruled that the property was in the name of CPA, not Melgazo. It considered CPAI
= CPAI
- Petitioners appealed. According to them, they were not CPAI members, hence
the case did not involve an intra-corporate dispute "between and among
members" so as to warrant the special commercial court's jurisdiction over it.
CA held: petitioners are admittedly not members of CPAI, then, the special
commercial court should not have taken cognizance of the case However, as
correctly pointed out by CPAI, the acts of the petitioners, through their counsel, in
participating in the trial of the case...show that they themselves consider the trial
court to have jurisdiction over the case.
Issue:
Will estoppel bar petitioners from questioning the jurisdiction of the
special commercial court?
Held: NO. Originally, section 5 of PD902 conferred on the SEC original and exclusive
jurisdiction over intra-corporate controversies. However, the jurisdiction of the
SEC were later on transferred to the courts of general jurisdiction pursuant to the
enactment of RA 8799.
The conflict among the parties here was outside the jurisdiction of the special
commercial court.

The issue in this case does not concern the regulation of CPAI or even CPA. The
determination as to who is the true owner of the disputed property should be
threshed out in a regular court.
The rule remains that estoppel does not confer jurisdiction on a tribunal that has
none over the cause of action or subject matter of the case. Jurisdiction by estoppel
is not available here. Consequently, CPAI cannot be permitted to wrest from
petitioners (as the remaining CPA officers) the administration of the disputed
property until after the parties' rights are clearly adjudicated in the proper courts. It
is neither fair nor legal to bind a party to the result of a suit or proceeding in a court
with no jurisdiction. The decision of a tribunal not vested with the appropriate
jurisdiction is null and void.