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G.R. No.

95067 July 23, 1992

GERARDO ARANAS and FELINA RAVACIO ARANAS, petitioner,


vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, ILIGAN CAPITOL COLLEGE, SESENIO ROSALES and LAUREANA
ROSALES, respondents.

PADILLA, J.:

Does the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have jurisdiction over an intra-corporate dispute
which occurred prior to, bit remained outstanding or unfinished after the promulgation of PD 902-A on
11 March 1976?

There is no need for a lengthy exposition of the facts. The pertinent data in the dispositive portion of the
decision rendered by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Lanao del Norte, Branch I, Iligan City ** in Civil
Case No. 1276, dated 7 August 1975, will suffice:

. . . judgment is hereby rendered ordering the herein defendants jointly and severally, to cause the
issuance in favor of the plaintiffs, the certificate of stock corresponding to the cash investment made by
them in the Iligan Capitol College in the amount of P5,730.00 as of May, 1964 and to deliver in favor of
the plaintiffs their unrealized profits and/or dividends by virtue of this investment from May up to the
present.

On 25 July 1984, herein petitioners (plaintiffs in the court a quo), having prevailed in their action, filed
with said court a motion to compel respondent Iligan Capitol College to submit all corporate records,
financial statements, stock transfer books for the examination of the court a quo.

The court, as prayed for by petitioners, issued several orders and writs of execution but private
respondents refused to obey and comply with the said orders. On 24 April 1989, another order
and alias writ of execution were issued by the same court; whereupon, private respondents filed a
motion for reconsideration, claiming therein that the case involves an intra-corporate dispute cognizable
by the Securities and Exchange Commission, pursuant to PD 902-A. An order of 29 June 1989 maintained
that the court a quo has not lost jurisdiction to enforce its final judgment 1 over the intra-corporate
dispute.

Private respondents resorted to a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals, assailing the
court a quo's insistence on its jurisdiction over the dispute. Private respondents were sustained in their
position by the Court of Appeals. 2

Petitioners are now before this Court on a petition for review on certiorari. They submit that the matter,
at this stage, is simply an execution of a final judgment rendered by the court a quo and that there is no
further or new controversy between a stockholder and the corporation.

There is weight to what petitioners say on the issue of execution of a final judgment rendered by the
trial court at a time when it had unquestioned jurisdiction over the case. The general rule is that once
jurisdiction attaches, it continues, and yet, under the circumstances of the case, we believe,
conformably with the decision of the Court of Appeals, that execution of the RTC judgment should now
be placed under the supervision and control of the Securities and Exchange Commission, even if the RTC
judgment indeed is now final and executory and can no longer be modified or altered.

Section 5 of PD 902-A reads:

In addition to the regulatory and adjudicative functions of the Securities and Exchange Commission over
corporations, partnerships and other forms of associations registered with it as expressly granted under
existing laws and decrees, it shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide cases
involving:

a) Devices or schemes employed by or any acts, of the board of directors, business associates, its officers
or partners, amounting to fraud and misrepresentation which may be detrimental to the interest of the
public and/or of the stockholders, partners, members of associations or organizations registered with
the Commission.

b) Controversies arising out of intra-corporate or partnership relations, between and among


stockholders, members, or associates; between any or all of them and the corporation, partnership or
association of which they are stockholders, members or associates, respectively; and between such
corporation, partnership or association and the state insofar as it concerns their individual franchise or
right to exist as such entity;

xxx xxx xxx

The evident purpose of the law in investing a specialized administrative body like the Securities and
Exchange Commission with additional adjudicatory powers over intracorporate and kindred disputes is
to promote dispatch arising from expertise enhanced by specialization in the settlement of the said
controversies. On this premise, it would not really matter whether the acts or events giving rise to
litigation occurred before of after the adoption of Presidential Decree No. 902-A on March 11, 1976.
(Emphasis supplied). 3

There is, true enough, no indication that right after 11 March 1976 when PD 902-A was promulgated,
herein private respondents moved for the transfer of the proceedings to the SEC, hence, they can be
deemed to have acquiesced to the proceedings before the court a quo and to be bound thereby;
however, execution and subsequent incidents will have to be transferred to the jurisdiction of the
Securities and Exchange Commission. This appears to be the clear intent of the law, PD 902-A.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is ordered to cause execution of the final judgment, dated 7
July 1975, of the RTC of Lanao del Norte, Branch I, Iligan City in Civil Case No. 1276. This will include,
among others, the issuance of certificate of stock in favor of petitioners, inspection of the books of
accounts of respondent corporation for the purpose of determining whether profits have indeed been
earned by the corporation and whether herein petitioners have been unjustly deprived of their share
therein.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is AFFIRMED. Let this case be remanded to the Securities and
Exchange Commission for disposition in accordance with the pronouncements in this decision. The
entire records of Civil Case No. 1276 are ordered transferred to the SEC.

SO ORDERED.
SERAFIN TIJAM, ET AL. vs.MAGDALENO SIBONGHANOY alias GAVINO SIBONGHANOY and LUCIA BAGUIO
(CASE DIGEST) G.R. No. L-21450 - - April 15, 1968

FACTS:

Tijam filed for recovery of P1,908 + legal interest from Sibongahanoy. Defendants filed a counter bond
with Manila

Surety and Fidelity Co (Surety). Judgement was in favour of the plaintiffs, a writ of execution was issued
against the defendant. Defendants moved for writ of execution against surety which was granted.
Surety moved to quash the writ but was denied, appealed to CA without raising the issue on lack of
jurisdiction.

CA affirmed the appealed decision. Surety then filed Motion to Dismiss on the ground of lack of
jurisdiction against CFI Cebu in view of the effectivity of Judiciary Act of 1948 a month before the filing
of the petition for recovery. Act placed original exclusive jurisdiction of inferior courts all civil actions for
demands not exceeding 2,000 exclusive of interest. CA set aside its earlier decision and referred the case
to SC since it has exclusive jurisdiction over "all cases in which the jurisdiction of any inferior court is in
issue.

ISSUE: WON Surety bond is estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the CFI Cebu for the first time
upon appeal.YES

RATIO: SC believes that that the Surety is now barred by laches from invoking this plea after almost
fifteen years before the Surety filed its motion to dismiss raising the question of lack of jurisdiction for
the first time - 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. 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 -
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 -"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 adverse.

: Other merits on the appeal : The surety insists that the lower court should have granted its motion to
quash the writ of execution because the same was issued without the summary hearing - Summary
hearing is "not intended to be carried on in the formal manner in which ordinary actions are
prosecuted" (83 C.J.S. 792). It is, rather, a procedure by which a question is resolved "with dispatch, with
the least possible delay, and in preference to ordinary legal and regular judicial proceedings" (Ibid, p.
790). What is essential is that "the defendant is notified or summoned to appear and is given an
opportunity to hear what is urged upon him, and to interpose a defense, after which follows an
adjudication of the rights of the parties - In the case at bar, the surety had been notified of the plaintiffs'
motion for execution and of the date when the same would be submitted for consideration. In fact, the
surety's counsel was present in court when the motion was called, and it was upon his request that the
court a quo gave him a period of four days within which to file an answer. Yet he allowed that period to
lapse without filing an answer or objection. The surety cannot now, therefore, complain that it was
deprived of its day in court.

El Banco Espanol-Filipino vs. Vicente Palanca G.R. No. L-11390, March 26, 1918

El Banco Espanol-Filipino vs. Palanca


G.R. No. L-11390, March 26, 1918

* JURISDICTION, HOW ACQUIRED: Jurisdiction over the property which is the subject of the litigation
may result either from a seizure of the property under legal process, whereby it is brought into the
actual custody of the law, or it may result from the institution of legal proceedings wherein, under
special provisions of law, the power of the court over the property is recognized and made effective.
* The action to foreclose a mortgage is said to be a proceeding quasi in rem, by which is expressed the
idea that while it is not strictly speaking an action in rem yet it partakes of that nature and is
substantially such.
* DUE PROCESS IN FORECLOSURE PROCEEDINGS: Property is always assumed to be in the possession of
its owner, in person or by agent; and he may be safely held, under certain conditions, to be affected
with knowledge that proceedings have been instituted for its condemnation and sale.

FACTS:

Engracio Palanca Tanquinyeng y Limquingco mortgaged various parcels of real property in Manila to El
Banco Espanol-Filipino. Afterwards, Engracio returned to China and there he died on January 29, 1810
without returning again to the Philippines. The mortgagor then instituted foreclosure proceeding but
since defendant is a non-resident, it was necessary to give notice by publication. The Clerk of Court was
also directed to send copy of the summons to the defendants last known address, which is in Amoy,
China. It is not shown whether the Clerk complied with this requirement. Nevertheless, after publication
in a newspaper of the City of Manila, the cause proceeded and judgment by default was rendered. The
decision was likewise published and afterwards sale by public auction was held with the bank as the
highest bidder. On August 7, 1908, this sale was confirmed by the court. However, about seven years
after the confirmation of this sale, a motion was made by Vicente Palanca, as administrator of the estate
of the original defendant, wherein the applicant requested the court to set aside the order of default
and the judgment, and to vacate all the proceedings subsequent thereto. The basis of this application
was that the order of default and the judgment rendered thereon were void because the court had
never acquired jurisdiction over the defendant or over the subject of the action.

ISSUE:

* Whether or not the lower court acquired jurisdiction over the defendant and the subject matter of the
action
* Whether or not due process of law was observed
RULING:

On Jurisdiction

The word jurisdiction is used in several different, though related, senses since it may have reference
(1) to the authority of the court to entertain a particular kind of action or to administer a particular kind
of relief, or it may refer to the power of the court over the parties, or (2) over the property which is the
subject to the litigation.

The sovereign authority which organizes a court determines the nature and extent of its powers in
general and thus fixes its competency or jurisdiction with reference to the actions which it may
entertain and the relief it may grant.

How Jurisdiction is Acquired

Jurisdiction over the person is acquired by the voluntary appearance of a party in court and his
submission to its authority, or it is acquired by the coercive power of legal process exerted over the
person.

Jurisdiction over the property which is the subject of the litigation may result either from a seizure of
the property under legal process, whereby it is brought into the actual custody of the law, or it may
result from the institution of legal proceedings wherein, under special provisions of law, the power of
the court over the property is recognized and made effective. In the latter case the property, though at
all times within the potential power of the court, may never be taken into actual custody at all. An
illustration of the jurisdiction acquired by actual seizure is found in attachment proceedings, where the
property is seized at the beginning of the action, or some subsequent stage of its progress, and held to
abide the final event of the litigation. An illustration of what we term potential jurisdiction over the res,
is found in the proceeding to register the title of land under our system for the registration of land. Here
the court, without taking actual physical control over the property assumes, at the instance of some
person claiming to be owner, to exercise a jurisdiction in rem over the property and to adjudicate the
title in favor of the petitioner against all the world.

In the terminology of American law the action to foreclose a mortgage is said to be a proceeding quasi in
rem, by which is expressed the idea that while it is not strictly speaking an action in rem yet it partakes
of that nature and is substantially such. The expression "action in rem" is, in its narrow application, used
only with reference to certain proceedings in courts of admiralty wherein the property alone is treated
as responsible for the claim or obligation upon which the proceedings are based. The action quasi rem
differs from the true action in rem in the circumstance that in the former an individual is named as
defendant, and the purpose of the proceeding is to subject his interest therein to the obligation or lien
burdening the property. All proceedings having for their sole object the sale or other disposition of the
property of the defendant, whether by attachment, foreclosure, or other form of remedy, are in a
general way thus designated. The judgment entered in these proceedings is conclusive only between the
parties.
It is true that in proceedings of this character, if the defendant for whom publication is made appears,
the action becomes as to him a personal action and is conducted as such. This, however, does not affect
the proposition that where the defendant fails to appear the action is quasi in rem; and it should
therefore be considered with reference to the principles governing actions in rem.

G.R. No. 208232, March 10, 2014

SURVIVING HEIRS OF ALFREDO R. BAUTISTA, NAMELY: EPIFANIA G. BAUTISTA AND ZOEY G.


BAUTISTA, Petitioners, v. FRANCISCO LINDO AND WELHILMINA LINDO; AND HEIRS OF FILIPINA
DAQUIGAN, NAMELY: MA. LOURDES DAQUIGAN, IMELDA CATHERINE DAQUIGAN, IMELDA
DAQUIGAN AND CORSINO DAQUIGAN, REBECCA QUIAMCO AND ANDRES QUIAMCO, ROMULO
LORICA AND DELIA LORICA, GEORGE CAJES AND LAURA CAJES, MELIDA BAEZ AND FRANCISCO
BAEZ, MELANIE GOFREDO, GERVACIO CAJES AND ISABEL CAJES, EGMEDIO SEGOVIA AND VERGINIA
SEGOVIA, ELSA N. SAM, PEDRO M. SAM AND LINA SAM, SANTIAGO MENDEZ AND MINA MENDEZ,
HELEN M. BURTON AND LEONARDO BURTON, JOSE JACINTO AND BIENVENIDA JACINTO, IMELDA
DAQUIGAN, LEO MATIGA AND ALICIA MATIGA, FLORENCIO ACEDO JR., AND LYLA
VALERIO, Respondents.

DECISION

VELASCO JR., J.:

The Case

This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 assailing the April 25, 2013 Order of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) in Civil Case No. (1798)-021 as well as its Order of July 3, 2013 denying reconsideration.

The Facts

Alfredo R. Bautista (Bautista), petitioners predecessor, inherited in 1983 a free-patent land located in
Poblacion, Lupon, Davao Oriental and covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. (1572) P-6144. A
few years later, he subdivided the property and sold it to several vendees, herein respondents, via a
notarized deed of absolute sale dated May 30, 1991. Two months later, OCT No. (1572) P-6144 was
canceled and Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) were issued in favor of the vendees.1crallawlibrary

Three years after the sale, or on August 5, 1994, Bautista filed a complaint for repurchase against
respondents before the RTC, Branch 32, Lupon, Davao Oriental, docketed as Civil Case No.
1798,2anchoring his cause of action on Section 119 of Commonwealth Act No. (CA) 141, otherwise
known as the Public Land Act, which reads:chanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

SECTION 119. Every conveyance of land acquired under the free patent or homestead provisions, when
proper, shall be subject to repurchase by the applicant, his widow, or legal heirs, within a period of five
years from the date of the conveyance.
Respondents, in their Answer, raised lack of cause of action, estoppel, prescription, and laches, as
defenses.

Meanwhile, during the pendency of the case, Bautista died and was substituted by petitioner Epifania G.
Bautista (Epifania).

Respondents Francisco and Welhilmina Lindo later entered into a compromise agreement with
petitioners, whereby they agreed to cede to Epifania a three thousand two hundred and thirty square
meter (3,230 sq.m.)-portion of the property as well as to waive, abandon, surrender, and withdraw all
claims and counterclaims against each other. The compromise was approved by the RTC in its Decision
dated January 27, 2011, the fallo of which reads:chanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

WHEREFORE, a DECISION is hereby rendered based on the above-quoted Compromise Agreement and
the parties are enjoined to strictly comply with the terms and conditions of the same.

SO ORDERED.3

Other respondents, however, filed a Motion to Dismiss4 dated February 4, 2013, alleging that the
complaint failed to state the value of the property sought to be recovered. Moreover, they asserted that
the total selling price of all the properties is only sixteen thousand five hundred pesos (PhP 16,500), and
the selling price or market value of a property is always higher than its assessed value. Since Batas
Pambansa Blg. (BP) 129, as amended, grants jurisdiction to the RTCs over civil actions involving title to
or possession of real property or interest therein where the assessed value is more than PhP 20,000,
then the RTC has no jurisdiction over the complaint in question since the property which Bautista seeks
to repurchase is below the PhP 20,000 jurisdictional ceiling.

RTC Ruling5

Acting on the motion, the RTC issued the assailed order dismissing the complaint for lack of jurisdiction.
The trial court found that Bautista failed to allege in his complaint that the value of the subject property
exceeds 20 thousand pesos. Furthermore, what was only stated therein was that the total and full
refund of the purchase price of the property is PhP 16,500. This omission was considered by the RTC as
fatal to the case considering that in real actions, jurisdictional amount is determinative of whether it is
the municipal trial court or the RTC that has jurisdiction over the case.

With respect to the belated filing of the motion, the RTC, citing Cosco Philippines Shipping, Inc. v.
Kemper Insurance Company,6 held that a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction may be filed at any
stage of the proceedings, even on appeal, and is not lost by waiver or by estoppel. The dispositive
portion of the assailed Order reads:chanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

WHEREFORE, the complaint for Repurchase, Consignation, with Preliminary Injunction and Damages is
hereby dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

SO ORDERED.7crallawlibrary
Assignment of Errors

Their motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioners now seek recourse before this Court
with the following assigned errors:chanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT RTC ERRED IN ADMITTING THE MOTION TO DISMISS DATED FEBRUARY 4,
2013, BELATEDLY FILED BY THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS IN THE CASE.

II

THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT RTC ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE INSTANT CASE FOR REPURCHASE IS A REAL
ACTION.8crallawlibrary

The Issue

Stated differently, the issue for the Courts resolution is: whether or not the RTC erred in granting the
motion for the dismissal of the case on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter.

Arguments

Petitioners argue that respondents belatedly filed their Motion to Dismiss and are now estopped from
seeking the dismissal of the case, it having been filed nine (9) years after the filing of the complaint and
after they have actively participated in the proceedings. Additionally, they allege that an action for
repurchase is not a real action, but one incapable of pecuniary estimation, it being founded on privity of
contract between the parties. According to petitioners, what they seek is the enforcement of their right
to repurchase the subject property under Section 119 of CA 141.

Respondents, for their part, maintain that since the land is no longer devoted to agriculture, the right of
repurchase under said law can no longer be availed of, citing Santana v. Marias.9 Furthermore, they
suggest that petitioners intend to resell the property for a higher profit, thus, the attempt to
repurchase. This, according to respondents, goes against the policy and is not in keeping with the spirit
of CA 141 which is the preservation of the land gratuitously given to patentees by the State as a reward
for their labor in cultivating the property. Also, the Deed of Absolute Sale presented in evidence by
Bautista was unilaterally executed by him and was not signed by respondents. Lastly, respondents argue
that repurchase is a real action capable of pecuniary estimation.

Our Ruling
The petition is meritorious.

Jurisdiction of courts is granted by the Constitution and pertinent laws.

Jurisdiction of RTCs, as may be relevant to the instant petition, is provided in Sec. 19 of BP 129, which
reads:chanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original
jurisdiction:chanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

1) In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary estimation;

2) In all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein,
where the assessed value of the property involved exceeds Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or, for
civil actions in Metro Manila, where such value exceeds Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) except
actions for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or buildings, original jurisdiction over which
is conferred upon the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts.

On the other hand, jurisdiction of first level courts is prescribed in Sec. 33 of BP 129, which
provides:chanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

Sec. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts
in civil cases. Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts shall
exercise:chanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

xxxx

3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve title to, or possession of, real property,
or any interest therein where the assessed value of the property or interest therein does not exceed
Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or, in civil actions in Metro Manila, where such assessed value
does not exceed Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) exclusive of interest, damages of whatever kind,
attorneys fees, litigation expenses and costs: Provided, That in cases of land not declared for taxation
purposes, the value of such property shall be determined by the assessed value of the adjacent lots.

The core issue is whether the action filed by petitioners is one involving title to or possession of real
property or any interest therein or one incapable of pecuniary estimation.

The course of action embodied in the complaint by the present petitioners predecessor, Alfredo R.
Bautista, is to enforce his right to repurchase the lots he formerly owned pursuant to the right of a free-
patent holder under Sec. 119 of CA 141 or the Public Land Act.

The Court rules that the complaint to redeem a land subject of a free patent is a civil action incapable of
pecuniary estimation.

It is a well-settled rule that jurisdiction of the court is determined by the allegations in the complaint and
the character of the relief sought.10 In this regard, the Court, in Russell v. Vestil,11 wrote that in
determining whether an action is one the subject matter of which is not capable of pecuniary estimation
this Court has adopted the criterion of first ascertaining the nature of the principal action or remedy
sought. If it is primarily for the recovery of a sum of money, the claim is considered capable of
pecuniary estimation, and whether jurisdiction is in the municipal courts or in the RTCs would depend
on the amount of the claim. But where the basic issue is something other than the right to recover a
sum of money, where the money claim is purely incidental to, or a consequence of, the principal relief
sought, this Court has considered such actions as cases where the subject of the litigation may not be
estimated in terms of money, and, hence, are incapable of pecuniary estimation. These cases are
cognizable exclusively by RTCs.12crallawlibrary

Settled jurisprudence considers some civil actions as incapable of pecuniary


estimation, viz:chanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

1. Actions for specific performance;


2. Actions for support which will require the determination of the civil status;
3. The right to support of the plaintiff;
4. Those for the annulment of decisions of lower courts;
5. Those for the rescission or reformation of contracts;13crallawlibrary
6. Interpretation of a contractual stipulation.14

The Court finds that the instant cause of action to redeem the land is one for specific performance.

The facts are clear that Bautista sold to respondents his lots which were covered by a free patent. While
the deeds of sale do not explicitly contain the stipulation that the sale is subject to repurchase by the
applicant within a period of five (5) years from the date of conveyance pursuant to Sec. 119 of CA 141,
still, such legal provision is deemed integrated and made part of the deed of sale as prescribed by law. It
is basic that the law is deemed written into every contract.15 Although a contract is the law between the
parties, the provisions of positive law which regulate contracts are deemed written therein and shall
limit and govern the relations between the parties.16 Thus, it is a binding prestation in favor of Bautista
which he may seek to enforce. That is precisely what he did. He filed a complaint to enforce his right
granted by law to recover the lot subject of free patent. Ergo, it is clear that his action is for specific
performance, or if not strictly such action, then it is akin or analogous to one of specific
performance. Such being the case, his action for specific performance is incapable of pecuniary
estimation and cognizable by the RTC.

Respondents argue that Bautistas action is one involving title to or possession of real property or any
interests therein and since the selling price is less than PhP 20,000, then jurisdiction is lodged with the
MTC. They rely on Sec. 33 of BP 129.

Republic Act No. 769117 amended Sec. 33 of BP 129 and gave Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial
Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve
title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein where the assessed value of the property
or interest therein does not exceed twenty thousand pesos (PhP 20,000) or, in civil actions in Metro
Manila, where such assessed value does not exceed fifty thousand pesos (PhP 50,000) exclusive of
interest, damages of whatever kind, attorneys fees, litigation expenses and costs.

At first blush, it appears that the action filed by Bautista involves title to or possession of the lots he sold
to respondents. Since the total selling price is less than PhP 20,000, then the MTC, not the RTC, has
jurisdiction over the case. This proposition is incorrect for the re-acquisition of the lots by Bautista or
herein successors-in-interests, the present petitioners, is but incidental to and an offshoot of the
exercise of the right by the latter to redeem said lots pursuant to Sec. 119 of CA 141. The reconveyance
of the title to petitioners is solely dependent on the exercise of such right to repurchase the lots in
question and is not the principal or main relief or remedy sought. Thus, the action of petitioners is, in
reality, incapable of pecuniary estimation, and the reconveyance of the lot is merely the outcome of the
performance of the obligation to return the property conformably to the express provision of CA 141.

Even if we treat the present action as one involving title to real property or an interest therein which
falls under the jurisdiction of the first level court under Sec. 33 of BP 129, as the total selling price is only
PhP 16,000 way below the PhP 20,000 ceiling, still, the postulation of respondents that MTC has
jurisdiction will not hold water. This is because respondents have actually participated in the
proceedings before the RTC and aggressively defended their position, and by virtue of which they are
already barred to question the jurisdiction of the RTC following the principle of jurisdiction by estoppel.

In Heirs of Jose Fernando v. De Belen, it was held that the party raising defenses to the complaint,
actively participating in the proceedings by filing pleadings, presenting his evidence, and invoking its
authority by asking for an affirmative relief is deemed estopped from questioning the jurisdiction of the
court.18crallawlibrary

Here, we note that aside from the belated filing of the motion to dismiss--it having been filed nine (9)
years from the filing of the complaint--respondents actively participated in the proceedings through the
following acts:chanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

1. By filing their Answer and Opposition to the Prayer for Injunction19 dated September 29, 1994
whereby they even interposed counterclaims, specifically: PhP 501,000 for unpaid survey
accounts, PhP 100,000 each as litigation expenses, PhP 200,000 and PhP 3,000 per daily
appearance by way of attorneys fees, PhP 500,000 as moral damages, PhP 100,000 by way of
exemplary damages, and costs of suit;

2. By participating in Pre-trial;

3. By moving for the postponement of their presentation of evidence;20crallawlibrary

4. By presenting their witness;21 and

5. By submitting the compromise agreement for approval.22crallawlibrary


Having fully participated in all stages of the case, and even invoking the RTCs authority by asking for
affirmative reliefs, respondents can no longer assail the jurisdiction of the said trial court. Simply put,
considering the extent of their participation in the case, they are, as they should be, considered
estopped from raising lack of jurisdiction as a ground for the dismissal of the action.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The April 25, 2013 and July
3, 2013 Orders of the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. (1798)-021 are hereby REVERSED and SET
ASIDE.

The Regional Trial Court, Branch 32 in Lupon, Davao Oriental is ORDERED to proceed with dispatch in
resolving Civil Case No. (1798)-021.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Peralta, Abad, Mendoza, and Leonen, JJ., concur.