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Lanada v CA

February 1, 2002 / De Leon, Jr., J.

Facts

The Union of Filipro Employees (UFE) declared a strike on account of alleged unfair labor practices
committed by Nestle Philippines, Inc. (Nestle) and put up a picket line in front of the companys
Cabuyao, Laguna factory.
NLRC issued a TRO enjoining the UFE to desist from blocking, barricading and obstructing the points
of ingress and egress from Nestles Cabuyao plant.
To enforce the TRO, Nestle sought the assistance of the Philippine Constabulary and the fire brigade
of Cabuyao.
Seeking to transfer its products from the Cabuyao factory to its warehouse in Taguig during the
strike, Nestle hired 6 cargo trucks from brothers Constancio and Jesus Alimagno.
Alexander Asinas of the UFE and Francis Santos of Nestle agreed to constitute a panel to discuss said
transfer of products, as the matter was not overed by the TRO.
However, in bad faith, Santos instead ordered the PC to disperse the strikers at the barricades in
front of the plant gate so that the trucks can get out of the plant.
The PC and the fire brigade began hitting the strikers with truncheons and water cannons.
With gate cleared, the cargo trucks began leaving the compound.
Meanwhile, Dr. Vied Vemir Garcia Hemedez was on his way home from his masteral class at the UP
College of Public Health.
He arrived at the Nestle factory while the dispersal was ongoing so he stopped his car.
At that time, the one of the cargo trucks, driven by Pacifico Galasao, was leaving the Nestle
compound at full speed.
To avoid stones being thrown at his direction, the truck driver drove in a crouching position.
However, he lost control of the truck and bumped the car of Dr. Hemedez.
Pinned down by his overturned car, Dr. Hemedez asked someone to inform his parents and pleaded
for help from the people.
While extricating Dr. Hemedez from the overturned car, his mother and brothers repeatedly asked
the help of PC soldiers, specifically to unload the cargo truck to speed up the rescue, but said
soldiers refused, saying that the truck might get looted if they did so.
Dr. Hemedez was pulled out from under his car 2 hours later by his family members and was rushed
to the hospital, where he died shortly after arrival.
Spouses Rogelio and Eliza Hemedez, parents of Dr. Hemedez, sued Nestle, Jesus Alimagno, Francis
Santos, Pacifico Galasao, and PC/Capt. Rey Laada for damages.
After defendants filed their answers to the complaint, the Hemedez spouses served the defendants
a request for admission of the truth of the facts set forth in their complaint and the genuineness of
each of the documents appended thereto.
Through their respective counsel, defendants filed their verified answer to the request for
admission.
The Hemedez spouses moved to strike out said answers and to declare the matters sought to be
admitted as impliedly admitted, contending that defendants themselves and not their counsel
should personally answer the request for admission.
TC denied the spouses motion as well as the MR.
On certiorari in the SC, the matter was referred to the CA.
CA granted the motions to strike out the answers subject of the requests for admission and declared
each of the matters requested to be impliedly admitted. It also remanded the case to the court a
quo for proper proceedings.

Issue/Ratio:

1. Should a person to whom a request for admission is addressed personally answer the
request? NO.

PSFC Financial Corp. V CA: Section 23 of Rule 138 provides that (a)ttorneys have authority to
bind their clients in any case by any agreement in relation thereto made in writing, and in taking
appeals, and in all matters of ordinary judicial procedure x x x . Thus, when Rule 26 states that
a party shall respond to the request for admission, it should not be restrictively construed
to mean that a party may not engage the services of counsel to make the response in his
behalf. Indeed, the theory of petitioner must not be taken seriously; otherwise, it will negate the
principles on agency in the Civil Code, as well as Sec. 23, Rule 138, of the Rules of Court.

In the case at bar, there is no showing that petitioners did not authorize their respective counsels
to file in their behalf their respective answers to the Hemedez spouses written request for
admission. As this Court has said, there is no reason to strictly construe the phrase the party
to whom the request is directed to refer solely or personally to the petitioners themselves.

Moreover, the subject matters of the request for admission are the same as the ultimate facts
alleged in the complaint to which petitioners have already filed their respective answers.

Po v. CA: A request for admission is not intended to merely reproduce or reiterate the allegations
of the requesting partys pleading but should set forth relevant evidentiary matters of fact, or
documents described in and exhibited with the request, whose purpose is to establish said partys
cause of action or defense.

Concrete Aggregates Corporation v. Court of Appeals: The rule on admission as a mode of discovery is
intended to expedite trial and to relieve parties of the costs of proving facts which will not be disputed
on trial and the truth of which can be ascertained by reasonable inquiry.
G.R. No. 73077 December 29, 1995

ESCOLASTICA MONTESCLAROS SON, and HEIRS OF ANASTACIO SON, petitioners,


vs.
CARMELINO SON, TEOFISTA SON, PRIMITIVO SON, CIPRIANA SON, ANATALIA SON,
LAREANO SON, GERARDA SON and THE HONORABLE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE
COURT, respondents.

KAPUNAN, J.:

The Revised Rules of Court was promulgated to provide a fair, orderly, and systematic procedure in
the prosecution and defense of cases. However, the rules are flexible and at times, in clearly
meritorious instances, liberally applied. This is one of them.

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court to reverse and
set aside the decision of the Court of Appeals in AC-G.R. CV No. 67364 dated 3 October 1985, the
dispositive portion of which reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, for reasons abovementioned, we hold that the evidence was


insufficient to sustain the verdict and judgment is contrary to law, and the decision of
the trial court is hereby set side and judgment is rendered:

(1) declaring the "Deed of Absolute Sale" dated November 5, 1957 (Exhs. "A" and
"9") as null and void and of no legal effect;

(2) ordering the defendants to turn over to plaintiffs the possession of the land in
question with an area of 6,324 square meters;

(3) ordering the defendants to pay plaintiffs the sum of P1,500.00 annually from 1972
until actual delivery of the land to plaintiffs as their share in the produce thereof.

Costs against defendants-appellees.

SO ORDERED. 1

The facts material to the case are as follows:

Private respondents are the children and heirs of the late spouses Pedro Son, who died sometime in
November 1957 and Marcelina Tudtud who died on 2 January 1972.

Petitioners are the heirs of Anastacio Son, brother of Pedro Son.

During his lifetime, Pedro Son inherited from his parents Juan Son and Susana Perilla a parcel of
land located at Caputatan Norte, Medellin, Cebu containing an area of two (2) hectares and seven
(7) centares.

Sometime in 1972, upon discovery that a portion of said land, 6,324 square meters to be exact, was
being occupied by petitioners, private respondents demanded that the latter return the land to their
possession. Petitioners refused and claimed that they owned the said portion as evidenced by a
Deed of Absolute Sale allegedly executed by Pedro Son on 5 November 1957. 2

On 2 September 1976 private respondents filed a complaint with the Court of First Instance of Cebu
for annulment of the Deed of Absolute Sale dated 5 November 1957 on grounds of forgery and for
recovery of real property.

On 7 December 1976, during the pre-trial conference, the parties agreed to limit the issue to the
validity or invalidity of the aforementioned deed of absolute sale. 3

On 10 September 1979 the trial court rendered a decision declaring the 5 November 1957 Deed of
Absolute Sale null and void and ordering petitioners to return the subject land to private
respondents. The dispositive portion reads, thus:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of plaintiffs, and, accordingly,


the "Deed of Absolute Sale" dated November 5, 1957 (Exhs. "A" and "9") is declared
null and void and of no legal effect; and defendants are directed (a) to turn over to
plaintiffs the possession of the land in question with an area of 6,324 square meters,
more or less; (b) to pay plaintiffs as their share in the produce of the land the sum of
P1,500.00 annually from 1972 until actual delivery of the possession of the land to
plaintiffs, with interest thereon at the legal rate; and (c) to pay to plaintiffs the amount
of P1,500.00 as attorney's fees. Costs against defendants. 4

On 28 September 1979 petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the aforestated decision
insisting that by virtue of an earlier Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase, dated 17 December
1951, wherein Pedro Son allegedly sold to petitioners one-half (1/2) of the land he inherited but with
a right to repurchase within one (1) year, petitioners acquired ownership thereof for failure of Pedro
Son to redeem the same within the period stipulated. 5

On 27 December 1979 the trial court issued an order reversing its earlier decision, the dispositive
portion of which reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, the judgment of this Court contained in its decision dated September
10, 1979, is hereby reconsidered and set aside, and another is entered dismissing
the complaint and ordering plaintiffs to pay defendants jointly and severally the sum
of P1,500.00 as attorney's fees, with costs against plaintiffs.

SO ORDERED. 6

After their motion for reconsideration dated 24 January 1980 was denied by the trial court in its order
of 5 March 1980, 7 private respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals.

In reversing the decision of the trial court on 3 October 1985, the Court of Appeals ruled, thus:

xxx xxx xxx

Clearly, the question of validity of Exhibit "1" which is the "Deed of Sale with Right to
Repurchase" executed by Pedro Son on December 17, 1951 discussed by
defendants in their motion for reconsideration had been waived by them. For indeed,
the delimitation of issues at a pre-trial conference bars the consideration of other
questions on appeal.
Defendants waited until the case was decided against them in the Court a quo before
they raised on a motion for reconsideration, the issue of non-exercise by Pedro
Son of his right to repurchase the land subject of Exhibit "1". Defendants' failure to
disclose this defense is contrary to the purpose and spirit of pre-trial procedure
established and conducted by our courts. It deprived the plaintiffs of the opportunity
to study and prepare to meet this defense. The identity of the land subject of Exhibit
"A" and the land subject of Exhibit "1" were not even established by sufficient
evidence. Both as a weapon of attack and defense, surprise should not be tolerated
under our Rules of Court.

Defendants are bound by the delimitation of the issues contained in the trial courts'
order issued on the very day the pre-trial conference was held. Such order controls
the subsequent course of action, unless modified before trial to prevent manifest
injustice. In this case, modification of the pre-trial order was never sought at the
instance of any party. 8

xxx xxx xxx

The Court of Appeals, however, upheld the trial court's ruling that the deed of sale dated 5
November 1957 was simulated, forged and therefore null and void. 9 Hence, the present petition for
review, where the following issues are raised:

WHETHER OR NOT THE DEED OF SALE WITH RIGHT TO REPURCHASE,


ALTHOUGH NOT TAKEN UP AS ONE OF THE ISSUES DURING THE PRE-TRIAL,
MAY BE ADMITTED IN EVIDENCE CONSIDERING THAT THE SAME WAS
PROPERLY PLEADED AND THE ADVERSE PARTY NOT ONLY FAILED TO
OBJECT TO THE PRESENTATION OF SAID DEED IN EVIDENCE BUT EVEN
CROSS-EXAMINED EXTENSIVELY ON THE SAME DURING THE TRIAL.

II

WHETHER OR NOT THE APPELLATE COURT GRAVELY MIS-APPREHENDED


THE FACTS OR HAD EMBARKED ON PURE CONJECTURE AND SURMISES
WHEN IT REVERSED THE FINDING OF THE TRIAL COURT TO THE EFFECT
THAT THE LAND COVERED BY THE DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE DATED
NOVEMBER 5, 1957 IS PART OF THE SAME LAND COVERED BY THE DEED OF
SALE WITH RIGHT TO REPURCHASE DATED DECEMBER 17, 1951.

III

WHETHER OR NOT THE APPELLATE COURT'S CONCLUSION IS BASED ON


PURE SPECULATION, CONJECTURE AND SURMISES, AND IN EFFECT
VIOLATED THE RULE THAT PLAINTIFF MUST RELY ON THE STRENGTH OF
HIS OWN EVIDENCE AND NOT ON THE WEAKNESS OF THE DEFENSE WHEN
IT CONCLUDED THAT THE DEED OF ABSOLUTE SALE DATED NOVEMBER 5,
1957 IS NULL AND VOID THE SAID CONCLUSION HAVING CAPITALIZED
MAINLY ON THE SUPPOSED DISCREPANCY IN THE TESTIMONIES OF THE
NOTARY PUBLIC AND THE DEFENDANT ANASTACIO SON BUT DISREGARDED
TOTALLY THE UNDISPUTED FACT THAT SAID NOTARIAL DEED WAS
ALREADY 18 YEARS OLD AND THAT THE DEFENDANTS (PETITIONERS
HEREIN) HAVE BEEN OCCUPYING THE LITIGATED LAND IN CONCEPT OF
OWNERS FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS. 10

There is merit in the petition.

We shall resolve the last issue first.

Petitioners' invocation of the principle that the plaintiff must rely on the strength of his own evidence
and not on the weakness of the evidence of the defendant is misplaced. What is being assailed by
petitioners is actually the credibility of private respondents' witnesses. Petitioners persist in their
argument that respondents' evidence, particularly the testimonies of Teofista Son Arcipe and her
husband Andres Arcipe, are inherently weak for being self-serving and biased. Petitioners likewise
fault the trial court and the appellate court for relying and capitalizing on the inconsistencies in the
testimonies of their witnesses, Anastacio Son and Judge Teodoro Lim who notarized the 1957 Deed
of Sale. 11

It is a time-honored principle that the matter of giving credence to evidence presented is best
addressed by the trial judge who is in a better position than the appellate courts to appreciate the
weight and evidentiary value of the testimonies of witnesses who have appeared before him. 12

After a meticulous review of the records we see no reason to depart from the findings of the Court of
Appeals and the trial court. In the case at bench, we fail to discover any misapprehension of
essential facts committed by both courts, which if considered, would have changed the outcome of
the case. 13

It was but logical for the trial court and the Court of Appeals to consider the numerous disparities and
contradictions in the testimonies of petitioners' witnesses precisely because these were material
inconsistencies which had a direct bearing on the issue of whether the 1957 deed of sale executed
by Pedro Son was valid or not.

Nevertheless, in asserting their right to the disputed property, petitioners did not rely solely on the
1957 Deed of Sale. Petitioners, in addition, presented an earlier Deed of Sale with Right to
Repurchase (dated 17 December 1951), allegedly covering the same lot, as evidence of their claim
to the said property.

Petitioners contend that the agreement to limit the issue to the validity of the alleged Deed of
Absolute Sale dated 5 November 1957, embodied in the pre-trial order, no longer controlled
considering that private respondents failed to object when petitioners introduced the 1951 Deed of
Sale with Right to Repurchase as evidence and, instead, even actively cross-examined Anastacio
Son on his testimony regarding said deed. Private respondents' lapse, petitioners assert, amounted
to a waiver.

We agree.

The issue, put simply, is whether or not the parties are bound by the delimitation of issues in the Pre-
trial Order dated 7 December 1976. 14

Section 4, Rule 20 of the Revised Rules of Court provides that:

Sec. 4. Record of pre-trial results. After the pre-trial the court shall make an order
which recites the action taken at the conference, the amendments allowed to the
pleadings, and the agreements made by the parties as to any of the matters
considered, such order shall limit the issues for trial to those not disposed of by
admissions or agreements of counsel and when entered controls the subsequent
course of the action, unless modified before trial to prevent manifest injustice.
(Emphasis ours)

A pre-trial hearing is meant to serve as a device to clarify and narrow down the basic issues
between the parties, to ascertain the facts relative to those issues and to enable the parties to obtain
the fullest possible knowledge of the issues and facts before civil trials and thus prevent that said
trials are carried on in the dark. 15

Pre-trial is primarily intended to make certain that all issues necessary to the disposition of a case
are properly raised. Thus, to obviate the element of surprise, parties are expected to disclose at a
pre-trial conference all issues of law and fact which they intend to raise at the trial, except such as
may involve privileged or impeaching matters. The determination of issues at a pre-trial conference
bars the consideration of other questions on appeal. 16

However, as previously intimated, the rules are not applied with rigidity. To prevent manifest
injustice, some exceptions are admitted. The rules itself, specifically Section 5 of Rule 10 on
Amended and Supplemental Pleadings, permits the following:

Sec. 5. Amendment to conform to or authorize presentation of evidence. When


issues not raised by the pleadings are tried by express or implied consent of the
parties, they shall be treated in all respects, as if they had been raised in the
pleadings. Such amendment of the pleadings as may be necessary to cause them to
conform to the evidence and to raise these issues may be made upon motion of any
party at any time, even after judgment; but failure so to amend does not affect the
result of the trial of these issues. If evidence is objected to at the trial on the ground
that it is not within the issues made by the pleadings, the court may allow the
pleadings to be amended and shall do so freely when the presentation of the merits
of the action will be subserved thereby and the objecting party fails to satisfy the
court that the admission of such evidence would prejudice him in maintaining his
action or defense upon the merits. The court may grant a continuance to enable the
objecting party to meet such evidence.

In Velasco v. Apostol, 17 we made the following qualification:

xxx xxx xxx

. . . A pre-trial order is not meant to be a detailed catalogue of each and every issue
that is to be or may be taken up during the trial. Issues that are impliedly included
therein or may be inferable therefrom by necessary implication are as much integral
parts of the pre-trial order as those that are expressly stipulated.

In fact, it would be absurd and inexplicable for the respondent company to knowingly
disregard or deliberately abandon the issue of non-payment of the premium on the
policy considering that it is the very core of its defense. Correspondingly, We cannot
but perceive here an undesirable resort to technicalities to evade an issue
determinative of a defense duly averred.

Furthermore, as private respondent correctly points out, evidence to prove such late
payment was introduced without any objection by the adverse party. This lack of
objection amounts to an implied consent conferring jurisdiction on the court to try
said issue. (emphasis ours)

xxx xxx xxx

The case at bar falls under this particular exception. Contrary to private respondents' contention,
petitioners did not raise the issue of the 1951 Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase only in their
motion for reconsideration before the trial court. In their answer to private respondents' original
complaint, petitioners categorically stated:

xxx xxx xxx

5. That during his lifetime on December 17, 1951, the late Pedro Son sold to the
herein defendants with right to repurchase for a consideration of Two Hundred
Pesos, One-Half (1/2) of the property which the said Pedro Son inherited from his
deceased parents, which was designated as Lot No. 4 in the deed of extrajudicial
partition mentioned in the preceding paragraph 4 of this answer. Pedro Son was not
able to repurchase the aforesaid portion sold to the defendants but the herein
defendants did not take advantage of said failure to repurchase because they did not
consolidate their ownership thereof.

6. Then on November 5, 1957, the said Pedro Son conveyed by way of absolute sale
a portion consisting of 6,324 square meters of the share which he inherited from his
deceased parents. A deed of absolute sale was executed by the said Pedro Son and
acknowledged before the Honorable Teodoro T. Lim, Municipal Judge of Medellin,
Cebu and Notary Public Ex-Officio, a copy of which deed of sale has been attached
to the complaint as Annex "A". 18

xxx xxx xxx

Private respondents' failure to raise any objection: (a) when petitioners presented in evidence the
1951 Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase; 19 (b) when petitioners' counsel vigorously cross-
examined respondent Teofista Son Arcipe on the aforementioned deed; 20 and (c) when Anastacio Son
testified on said document, 21 constitutes an implied assent on the part of respondents to depart from the
issue contained in the pre-trial order.

Private respondents' implied consent to try the issue was further demonstrated by their own
counsel's extensive cross-examination of petitioners' witness Anastacio Son regarding both the 1951
Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase and the 1957 Deed of Absolute Sale. 22

Private respondents cannot claim that they were not adequately prepared to meet petitioners'
defense. They were simply not "caught in surprise." On the other hand, they had every opportunity to
present rebuttal or counter-evidence on the issue.

On this point, we find most telling the testimony on cross-examination of private respondent Teofista
Son Arcipe:

xxx xxx xxx


Q Now, while your father was still alive and particularly in the year
1951, did you know if your father had entered into any transaction
concerning this land in question with the defendant Anastacio Son?

A I don't know about that.

Q You are not aware then that sometime on December 17, 1951 your
father executed a deed of sale with the right to repurchase, in favor of
Anastacio Son with respect to 1/2 of the land which he inherited from
his parents?

A I don't know about that.

Q You claim to be familiar with the signature of your father, Pedro


Son, if you would be shown a document bearing such signature,
would you be able to recognize the same?

A Yes, sir.

Q Alright. I am showing to you a document executed on December


17, 1951 and acknowledged before municipal judge Sabas Y.
Quijano, which purportedly bears the signature of Pedro Son, do you
recognize the signature of your father Pedro Son on this document?

A This signature is the signature of Pedro Son. 23

Finally, we find that the land subject of the 1951 Deed of Sale with Right to Repurchase was the
same property subject of the 1957 Deed of Absolute Sale.

Both deeds referred to the share of Pedro Son, the vendor, in the property which he and Anastacio
Son and the rest of their brothers and sisters inherited from their deceased parents.

The 1951 deed referred to "lot number four representing my (Pedro Son's) share according to the
extra-judicial partition made on September 17, 1942 . . ." 24 The aforesaid extra-judicial partition, in
turn, concerns the division of the property located in Caputatan Norte, Medellin, left by Juan Son and
Susana Perilla among their children including Pedro and Anastacio. 25

On the other hand, the 1957 deed referred to "a part of my (Pedro Son's) share, title, right, and
participation over a parcel of land located at the Barrio of Caputatan Norte, Municipality of Medellin,
Province of Cebu, Philippines, to which I, together with my seven brothers and sisters, inherited from
our deceased parents Juan Son and Susana Perilla . . ." 26

From the foregoing, there can be no dispute then as to the identity of the property subject of the
1951 and 1957 deeds. They are the same.

Private respondents' insistence that the 1951 and 1957 deeds are unrelated on grounds that the
areas (1/2 of Pedro Son's share in the 1951 deed and only 6,324 square meters in the 1957 sale)
and consideration (P200.00 in the 1951 deed and P350.00 in the 1957 document) are different
deserves little merit.
We do not find peculiar Anastacio Son's explanation that he simply acceded to his brother's plea to
reduce the area of the disputed lot and the P350.00 given by Anastacio to Pedro to pay for the
latter's food expenses be just considered as additional payment, 27 close family ties being a common
Filipino trait.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED and the appealed decision is hereby
REVERSED AND SET ASIDE and the judgment of the trial court REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 76597 February 26, 1988

TOMAS LAO, petitioner,


vs.
LETICIA ABIANDA TO-CHIP, RAMON TO-CHIP and COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.

RESOLUTION

FERNAN, J.:

On the basis of private respondent Leticia Abianda To-Chip's letters-complaint addressed to the
Land District Officer of the Bureau of lands, the Supervising Land Examiner of said Bureau filed a
complaint against petitioner Tomas Lao with the Provincial Fiscal of Samar for alleged violation of
Presidential Decree No. 772, which penalizes squatting and other similar acts. After preliminary
investigation, the Provincial Fiscal dismissed the charges for lack of merit.

Alleging that the filing of said complaint publicly put him to shame as he is a businessman with a
gross annual income of forty million pesos, petitioner filed in the then Court of First Instance of
Samar an action for damages based on Articles 20 and 21 of the Civil Code against Private
Respondent To-Chip and her husband Ramon To-Chip, the latter as a nominal party. 1

In its decision, the lower court awarded petitioner moral damages of P50,000 and attorney's fees
and litigation expenses of P10,000. Both parties appealed to the Court of Appeals.

On August 1, 1986, the Court of Appeals, thru its First Civil Cases Division composed of justices
Ramon G. Gaviola, Jr., Ma. Rosario Quetulio-Losa and Leonor Ines Luciano, with Justice Luciano
as ponente, promulgated a decision reversing the lower court's decision and dismissing the
complaint. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration assailing the validity of the Court of Appeals
decision on the ground that on August 1, 1986, the appellate court had no jurisdiction to issue said
decision as two of the three members of the first Civil Cases Division had been "effectively
disempowered to sit thereon as of July 31, 1986" as a result of the reorganization of said court. 2

In its resolution of November 7, 1986, the Court of Appeals denied the motion for reconsideration.
Said resolution which was also penned by Justice Luciano and concurred in by Justices Jorge R.
Coquia and Emeterio C. Cui states that the justices who were not re-appointed because of the
reorganization held office in a hold-over capacity until the newly appointed as well as re-appointed
justices took their oath of office before the President at 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon of August 1,
1986. As the questioned decision was promulgated at 11:45 A.M. of August 1, 1986, the justices
who were not re-appointed were still validly performing judicial functions including the promulgation
of decisions.

Consequently, petitioner filed the instant petition for review on certiorari raising, among others, the
issue of the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals to promulgate the decision of August 1, 1986 as
"there was no existing quorum and hence no authority to exercise any judicial power pertaining to
the Court of Appeals." 3

We agree with the petitioner.

On July 28, 1986, President Corazon C. Aquino issued Executive Order No. 33. Said executive
order amends certain sections of the Judiciary Act of 1980 and renames the Intermediate Appellate
Court as the Court of Appeals. Pertinent to this case is Section 6 thereof which amends Section 11
of the Judiciary Act as follows:

SEC. 11. Quorum. A majority of the actual members of the Court shall constitute a
quorum for its session en banc. Three members shall constitute a quorum for the
sessions of a division. The unanimous vote of the three numbers of a division shall
be necessary for the pronouncement of a decision or final resolution, which shall be
reached in consultation before the writing of the opinion by any member of the
division. In the event that the three members do not reach a unanimous vote, the
Presiding Justice shall request the raffle Committee of the Court for the designation
of two additional Justices to sit temporarily with them, forming a special division of
five members and the concurrence of a majority of such division shall be necessary
for the pronouncement of a decision or final resolution. The designation of such
additional Justices shall be made strictly by raffle.

xxx xxx xxx

(Emphasis supplied)

In line with the reorganization of the Court of Appeals, all the justices tendered their resignation. The
records of the Office of the Court Administrator reveal that on July 30,1986, President Aquino
accepted the resignations of the justices of the Court of Appeals. The following day, July 31, 1986,
the President appointed the Presiding Justice and forty-one (41) Associate Justices of said court.

At 5:20 o'clock in the afternoon of July 31, 1986, this Court received the communication of the
President regarding her acceptance of the resignations of the Justices of the Court of Appeals. This
Court then informed the justices concerned about said communication. Hence, the office of Justice
Gaviola received the notice of the President's acceptance of his resignation at 8:15 P.M. of the same
day while the office of Justice Quetulio-Losa received such notice at 8:30 A.M. of the following day,
August 1, 1986.

From these facts, it is clear that when the decision in question was promulgated at 11:45 A.M. on
August 1, 1986, Justices Gaviola and Quetulio-Losa had both ceased to be members of the Court of
appeals since at that time, they had been informed that their resignations had been accepted by the
President. It is therefore, immaterial that the newly appointed and re-appointed justices took their
oath of office at 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon of August 1, 1986. What is crucial is that when the
questioned decision was promulgated, two of the three justices necessary to constitute a quorum in
a division had lost their authority to act as justices by reason of the presidential acceptance of their
resignations. To endorse the opinion of the Court of Appeals that the justices who were not re-
appointed were acting in a hold-over capacity until their replacements shall have taken their oath of
office, will abet, rather than avoid, a disorderly administration of justice.

Time and again, We have ruled that to be binding, a judgment must be duly signed and promulgated
during the incumbency of the judge who signed it. 4 Thus, the promulgation of a decision after a judge
retires is nun and void. 5Fairness, equity and justice demand that the same rulings, although they involved
judges of the lower courts, should be applied with equal force to cases involving decisions promulgated
by the higher courts the justices of which have resigned.

ACCORDINGLY, the decision of August 1, 1986 is hereby declared null and void. This case is
remanded to the Court of Appeals for adjudication and promulgation of a new decision.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 136062 April 7, 2005

TRIFILO MONTEBON, Petitioner,


vs.
ATTY. CORAZON TANGLAO-DACANAY, LEGAL COUNSEL AND/OR OFFICE OF THE
OMBUDSMAN, ROBERT LIM, and EDWIN SALIMBANGON, Respondents.

DECISION

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

Before us is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended,
assailing the Memoranda1 of the Office of the Ombudsman dated June 10, 1998 and August 11,
1998 in OMB-MIN-CRIM-91-0466, entitled "Trifilo Montebon vs. Placido Huesca, et. al."

Records show that Edwin Salimbangon concluded a Rattan Cutting Contract with the government
through then Undersecretary Victor O. Ramos of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR). Thereafter, Salimbangon entered into a Rattan Supply Contract with
Tradewinds Rattan and Handicraft, Inc. (TRHI) through its Vice-President Robert Lim. TRHI would
supply Salimbangon rattan poles for a period of one year.

As Vice President of TRHI, Lim appointed Trifilo Montebon, herein petitioner, as its agent to process
and follow-up pertinent papers for the supply and release of rattan poles shipment from the source to
the port of Cebu.2

Sometime in May, 1990, the officers of the DENR, headed by Alfredo Madrid, filed with the Municipal
Trial Court (MTC) of Tagum, Davao a complaint for possession of rattan poles without government
permit, against petitioner, in violation of Section 68 of P.D. No. 705 (The Revised Forestry Code of
the Philippines). During the preliminary investigation, the MTC issued an Order directing petitioner
to take possession of the seized rattan poles for lack of space in the court for stock piling, but
prohibiting him not to dispose the same until the case is resolved.3

The MTC found a prima facie case against petitioner. Hence, an Information for the offense charged
was filed against him with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 1, Tagum, Davao, docketed as
Criminal Case No. 7730.
Thereupon, petitioner filed a motion to quash the Information on the ground that he had paid all the
forest charges and fees due the government.4

Meanwhile, on July 31, 1991, Lim cancelled petitioners authority to represent TRHI and
subsequently appointed Wilfredo Fortuna as its new agent. Fortuna was authorized to process and
follow-up pertinent papers for the supply of its rattan poles to the Port of Cebu.

On August 2, 1991, the RTC issued an Order granting petitioners motion to quash and dismissed
the case.5 The court found that petitioner had paid all the forest charges due. However, petitioner
refused to turn over the rattan poles to TRHI.

On September 4, 1991, Fortuna applied for a Certificate of Minor Forest Products Origin (CMFPO)
with the DENR over the unsplit rattan poles. Petitioner also applied for a CMFPO, claiming
ownership of the unsplit rattan poles.

On September 24,1991, Robert Lim personally applied for a CMFPO. Eventually, his application
was approved by Alfredo Madrid, OIC of the Community Environment Natural Resources Officer
(CENRO). Petitioners application was denied because he had no more authority to represent TRHI.

When petitioner found that the poles were released to TRHI, he filed an affidavit-complaint with the
Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao (OMB-MIN) against Placido Huesca, DENR cartographer, and
Roger Cantuba, DENR Forest Conservation Unit Division Chief, for violation of Section 3(e) and (h)
of Republic Act 3019 (RA 3019)6 and robbery, docketed as Case No. OMB-MIN 91-
0466.7 Subsequently, petitioner filed a supplemental complaint for the same charge against Robert
Lim, Edwin Salimbangon and Alfredo Madrid. Petitioner claimed that all of them conspired in
releasing the rattan poles to TRHI.

In their counter-affidavits, respondents alleged inter alia that petitioner has no right to claim
possession of the rattan poles since he merely held them as an agent of TRHI; that his authority as
agent had been revoked; and the issuance of the CMFPO by Alfredo Madrid, CENRO OIC, to
Robert Lim, as officer of the TRHI, is proper since TRHI, the owner of the poles, paid all the required
fees and charges.

On the basis of the Resolution8 of the OMB-MIN, two Informations9 were filed with the RTC, Branch
2, of Davao City against respondents Huesca and Cantuba of the DENR and Madrid of the CENRO;
and Lim and Salimbangon for violation of Sections 3(e) and (h) of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act), docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 37-597-96 & 37-598-96, respectively.

The RTC, upon respondents motion, ordered the City Prosecutor to conduct a reinvestigation. On
August 28, 1997, he issued a Resolution10 recommending the dismissal of Criminal Case No. 35-
597-96. As regards Criminal Case 37-598-96, he found probable cause against respondents Lim
and Salimbangon.

On October 24, 199711, the OMB-MIN disapproved the Resolution of the City Prosecutor, prompting
respondents Lim and Salimbangon to file a motion for reconsideration.12 However, it was denied in
an Order dated January 20, 1998.13

Undaunted, on February 23, 1998, respondents Lim and Salimbangon filed a notice of appeal with
the Office of the Ombudsman in Manila, questioning the Memorandum of the OMB-MIN denying
their motion to dismiss the charge against them.
In a Memorandum dated June 10, 1998,14 the Office of the Ombudsman in Manila affirmed the
appeal of Lim and Salimbangon and recommended the dismissal of the complaint and the
withdrawal of the Informations against them, thus:

"x x x

It is humbly submitted that the requisites of RA 3019, Section 3 (e) is missing in this
instance. It must be emphasized that the rattan poles, (which complainant said were illegally
taken, stolen or spirited away illegally by TRHI), were only in the possession of complainant
as an agent of TRHI, the true owners thereof, at least as far as the 59,670 unsplit poles are
concerned. The poles were taken from TRHIs concession area. The DENR fees and
charges were paid for by TRHI. The CMFPO issued was in favor of the owner of the rattan
poles. Even complainant does not deny this. It cannot be said therefore, that the TRHIs
officers Lim and Salimbangon caused undue injury or damage, or obtained unwarranted
benefit, advantage or preference, for taking what was legally theirs.

PREMISES CONSIDERED, it is respectfully recommended that the complaint against herein


respondents be DISMISSED and the informations (CCN 37597-96/CCN 37598-96) against
them be WITHDRAWN."

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied by the Ombudsman on August 11,
1998.15

Hence, the present recourse. We quote petitioners submission:

"Petitioner respectfully submits that the questioned Memoranda dated June 10 and August
11, 1998 should be nullified and/or set aside on the grounds that in the rendition or
issuance thereof, the respondent Legal Officer Atty. Corazon Tanglao-Dacanay and/or the
respondent Office of the Ombudsman-Manila, acted without jurisdiction and/or with grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction; committed manifests
reversible errors; acted in violation of the applicable Rules of the Ombudsman and exceeded
the limits of preliminary investigation/reinvestigation; and disregarded the law and
jurisprudence.16

For our resolution is the sole issue of whether the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion
amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction when it ordered the dismissal of petitioners complaint in
OMB-MIN-CRIM 91-0466 and the withdrawal of the Informations in Criminal Case No. 37-598-96.

The petition must fail.

Under Section 15 of Republic Act No. 6770, otherwise known as "The Ombudsman Act of 1989", the
Office of the Ombudsman has the sole power to investigate and prosecute on its own or on
complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency,
when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient."17 Relative to this,
we have held that it is the consistent policy of this Court not to interfere with the Ombudsman's
exercise of his investigatory powers.18 In Alba v. Nitorreda,19 we ruled:

". . . this Court has consistently refrained from interfering with the exercise by the
Ombudsman of his constitutionally mandated investigatory and prosecutory powers.
Otherwise stated, it is beyond the ambit of this Court to review the exercise of discretion of
the Ombudsman in prosecuting or dismissing a complaint filed before it. Such initiative and
independence are inherent in the Ombudsman who, beholden to no one, acts as the
champion of the people and preserver of the integrity of the public service.

The rule is based not only upon constitutional considerations but also upon practical ones. If it were
otherwise, the courts would be gravely hampered by innumerable petitions questioning the dismissal
of investigatory proceedings before the Ombudsman, in much the same way that the courts would
be swamped if they would be compelled to review the exercise of discretion on the part of our
prosecutors each time they decide to file an information with the court or throw out a complaint.20

It is well-settled that in the absence of a clear case of abuse of discretion, courts will not interfere
with the discretion of the Ombudsman, who, depending on his finding and considered evaluation of
the case, either dismisses a complaint or proceeds with it.21

In the present case, we cannot sustain petitioners contention that the Ombudsman acted with grave
abuse of discretion when he approved the Memorandum of Atty. Corazon T. Dacanay, Legal
Counsel of the Office of the Ombudsman, recommending the dismissal of the complaint leveled
against respondents Lim and Salimbangon. A perusal of the said Memorandum does not show any
taint of grave abuse of discretion on his part. Neither is there an indication that he acted in an
arbitrary or despotic manner arising from passion or hostility when he approved Atty. Dacanays
Memorandum recommending the dismissal of the complaint against the two respondents.

Petitioner maintains that respondents Lim and Salimbangon should be held guilty as charged for
they conspired with the public respondents, DENR personnel, in releasing the rattan poles to
TRHI. This was made possible when public respondent Madrid issued the CMFPO to Lim, an officer
of TRHI. Obviously, petitioner wants us to review factual matters.

It is a fundamental aphorism in law that a review of facts and evidence is not the province of the
extraordinary remedy of certiorari, which is extra ordinem beyond the ambit of appeal.22 Stated
elsewise, factual matters, now being raised by petitioner, cannot normally be inquired into by this
Court in a certiorari proceeding. It cannot be tasked to go over the proofs presented by the parties
and analyze, assess and weigh them again, in order to ascertain if the trial and the appellate courts
were correct in according superior credit to this or that piece of evidence of one party or the other.23

WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is DISMISSED. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-33545 March 7, 1931

METROPOLITAN WATER DISTRICT, Plaintiff-Appellant,


vs. SIXTO DE LOS ANGELES, ET AL., Defendants-Appellants.

Attorney-General Jaranilla for plaintiff-appellant.


Camus and Delgado for defendants-appellants.

JOHNSON, J.:
This action was commenced in the Court of First Instance of the
Province of Rizal on the 27th day of October, 1826. The plaintiff is a
public corporation, with its central office in the City of Manila. It was
organized under and by virtue of Act No. 2832, for the purpose of
furnishing an adequate water supply to the City of Manila and the
nearby municipalities. The purpose of the action was to secure the
expropriation of the land of the defendants situated in the
municipality of Montalban, Province of Rizal, with an area of
171.8861 hectares, more particularly described in Exhibits A and B
attached to the complaint. The plaintiff alleged that said land was
necessary in the construction of the Angat Waterworks System, and
that a portion of said waterworks, to wit, the watershed, was
definitely located by the plaintiff over and through said land of the
defendants. chanroblesvi rtua lawlib rary cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

Upon petition of the plaintiff the Court of First Instance of Rizal on


October 27, 1926, fixed the provisional value of the land at P2,000,
and authorized the plaintiff to enter into and take possession of the
land upon deposit of P2,000 with the provincial treasurer of Rizal.
virtua l law lib rary
cha nrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary chan roble s

On November 9, 1926, the defendants answered, denying generally


and specifically each and every allegation of the complaint, and
prayed that the same be dismissed with costs. chanroblesvi rt ualawlib ra ry chan robles v irt ual law li bra ry

On April 27, 1927 the court appointed three commissioners to hear


the parties, view the premises, fix the value thereof, and assess
damages and to make a full and complete report of their
proceedings to the court. Those appointed were Emilio de la Paz,
Jose M. Perez and Facundo San Agustin. chanroblesv irtualawli bra ry chan roble s virtual law l ibra ry

On May 10, 1929 the majority of the commissioners, Jose M. Perez


and Facundo San Agustin, submitted their report fixing the value of
the land at P58,750.60 and the improvements at P15,510, or a total
of P74,260.60. They also recommended 6 per cent, as damages, of
the value of the land and improvements and 6 per cent interest per
annum on the total amount allowed in favor of the defendants. The
other commissioner Emilio de la Paz submitted a separate report
fixing the value of the land at P79,717.25 and the improvements at
P21,825, or a total of P101,542.25, with damages and interest. chanroblesv irtualawl ibra ry chan roble s virtual law l ibra ry
On January 6, 1930 the lower court rendered a judgment in
accordance with the recommendation of the majority of the
commissioners, fixing the value of the land at P58,750.60 and the
improvements at P15,1510, and ordered the plaintiff to pay said
amounts to the defendants with interest at 6 per cent per annum
from the date the plaintiff took possession of the land, with costs
against the plaintiff. chanroblesv irt ualawli bra ry chan robles v irt ual law l ibra ry

From that judgment both parties appealed. cha nrob lesvi rtua lawlib rary cha nro bles vi rtua l law lib ra ry

The plaintiff-appellant contends that the value of the land and


improvements is grossly excessive, exorbitant, unreasonable and
unjust. On the other hand the defendants-appellants claim (1) that
the value fixed by the lower court is less than the actual value of
said land and improvements, and (2) that they are also entitled to
damages equivalent to 6 per cent of the total value of the land and
improvements. chanroblesvi rtua lawlib rary c han robles v irt ual law l ibra ry

During the pendency of this appeal, and on July 14, 1930 the
Metropolitan Water District Board passed a resolution requesting the
Attorney-General to petition the proper court to quash these
condemnation proceedings. Said resolution reads as follows:

RESOLUTION NO. 38

Series 1930 chanrobles v irt ual law l ibra ry

Be it resolved That the Acting Manager be and is hereby authorized


to request the Attorney-General to petition the proper court for the
quashing of the proceedings for the expropriation of land of Dr.
Sixto de los Angeles, situated in Montalban, Province of Rizal.

Acting upon said resolution the Attorney-General on July 18, 1930


filed a petition praying that the Metropolitan Water District be
allowed to discontinue the condemnation proceedings and that the
complaint filed in this case be dismissed. Said petition reads as
follows:

PETITION chanrobles vi rtual law lib rary


Now comes the undersigned Attorney-General and respectfully
states:chanrobles v irt ual law l ibra ry

That the above-entitled case is a proceeding commenced by the


Metropolitan Water District for the condemnation of a parcel of land
situated in the municipality of Montalban, Province of Rizal,
authorized by section 2, paragraph ( k), of Act No. 2832. chanroblesvi rtualaw lib rary cha nrob les vi rtual law lib rary

That the Metropolitan Water District Board, in its meeting of the


14th instant, decided to discontinue this proceeding, the land
subject thereby not being indispensably necessary in the
maintenance and operation of its system of waterworks. A copy of
the extracts of the minutes of the meeting of said board is attached
hereto, marked Exhibit A. chanroble svirtualawl ibra ry chan roble s virtual law lib rary

That pursuant to the resolution of said board, the Acting Manager to


the Metropolitan Water District requested the undersigned that
steps be taken to have this proceeding discontinued or quashed. A
copy of said request is hereto attached, marked Exhibit B. chanro blesv irt ualawli bra ry chan robles v irt ual law l ibra ry

Wherefore, it is respectfully prayed that the Metropolitan Water


District be permitted to discontinue the present condemnation
proceeding, and that the expropriation complaint filed in this case
be ordered dismissed.

xxx xxx xxx

Manila, July 17, 1930.

(Sgd.) DELFIN JARANILLA


Attorney-General.

To said petition the defendants filed a vigorous opposition


contending that it would be improper and unjust for this court to set
aside and quash all the proceedings had after five years of litigation,
during which time the plaintiff has been in possession of the land,
and after the defendants have incurred heavy expenses and other
troubles incident to a long litigation. They also contend that at this
stage of the case, after a judgment has been rendered and after
both parties have perfected their appeal, it is too late for the
plaintiff to withdraw. The defendants, however, prayed that in case
the plaintiff's petition is granted, that the record be returned to the
lower court for the determination of the damages which they may
have suffered by reason of these condemnation proceedings. chanroble svi rtualaw lib rary chan rob les vi rtual law lib rary

It will be noted from the foregoing that the only question presented
to this court for decision now is, whether or no the plaintiff or
petitioner has the right to have the complaint dismissed. It has been
held in many cases that:

The right of the plaintiff to dismiss his action with the consent of the
court is universally recognized with certain well-defined exceptions.
If the plaintiff discovers that the action which he commenced was
brought for the purpose of enforcing a right or a benefit, the
advisability or necessity of which he later discovers no longer exists,
or that the result of the action would be different from what he had
intended, then he should be permitted to withdraw the same,
subject to the approval of the court. The plaintiff should not be
required to continue the action, subject to some well-defined
exceptions, when it is not to his advantage so to do. Litigation
should be discouraged and not encouraged. Courts should not
require parties to litigate when they no longer desire so to do.
Courts, in granting permission to dismiss an action, of course,
should always take into consideration the effect which said dismissal
would have upon the rights of the defendants. (City of Manila vs.
Ruymann, 37 Phil., 421.)

It will also be remembered that the defendants from the very


beginning of these proceedings insisted that the petition of the
plaintiff should be dismissed for lack of cause of action.chanroble svirtualawl ibra ry chan rob les vi rtual law lib rary

It will not be overlooked that this is an action for the expropriation


of land under the power of eminent domain. The Government of the
Philippine Islands, by an Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, the first
organic Act, was given the power to exercise the right of eminent
domain. Said Act in its section 63 provides:

SEC. 63. That the Government of the Philippine Islands is hereby


authorized, subject to the limitations and conditions prescribed in
this Act, to acquire, receive, hold, maintain, and convey title to real
and personal property, and may acquire real estate for public
uses by the exercise of the right of eminent domain.

In the second organic Act of the Philippine Government, of August


29, 1916 (sec. 28) the power to exercise the right of eminent
domain was still continued in the Government of the Philippine
Islands. In pursuance of the authority granted by Congress to the
Government of the Philippine Islands, the Legislature, by virtue of
section 241 of Act No. 190, provided that:

The Government of the Philippine Islands, or of any province or


department thereof, or of any municipality, and any person, or
public or private corporation having by law the right to condemn
private property for public use, shall exercise that right in the
manner hereinafter prescribed.

There is no question raised concerning the right of the plaintiff here


to acquire the land under the power of eminent domain. That power
was expressly granted it by its charter. The power of eminent
domain is a right reserved to the people or Government to take
property for public use. It is the right of the state, through its
regular organization, to reassert either temporarily or permanently
its dominion over any portion of the soil of the state on account of
public necessity and for the public good. The right of eminent
domain is the right which the Government or the people retains
over the estates of individuals to resume them for public use. It is
the right of the people, or the sovereign, to dispose, in case of
public necessity and for the public safety, of all the wealth contained
in the state.
chanroblesvi rtualaw lib rary cha nrob les vi rtua l law lib rary

It is not denied that the purpose of the plaintiff was to acquire the
land in question for public use. The fundamental basis then of all
actions brought for the expropriation of lands, under the power of
eminent domain, is public use. That being true, the very moment
that it appears at any stage of the proceedings that the
expropriation is not for a public use, the action must necessarily fail
and should be dismissed, for the reason that the action cannot be
maintained at all except when the expropriation is for some public
use. That must be true even during the pendency of the appeal or
at any other stage of the proceedings. If, for example, during the
trial in the lower court, it should be made to appear to the
satisfaction of the court that the expropriation is not for some public
use, it would be the duty and the obligation of the trial court to
dismiss the action. And even during the pendency of the appeal, if it
should be made to appear to the satisfaction of the appellate court
that the expropriation is not for public use, then it would become
the duty and the obligation of the appellate court to dismiss it. chanroble svirtualawl ibra ry chan roble s virtual law lib rary

In the present case the petitioner admits that the expropriation of


the land in question is no longer necessary for public use. Had that
admission been made in the trial court the case should have been
dismissed there. It now appearing positively, by resolution of the
plaintiff, that the expropriation is not necessary for public use, the
action should be dismissed even without a motion on the part of the
plaintiff. The moment it appears in whatever stage of the
proceedings that the expropriation is not for a public use the
complaint should be dismissed and all the parties thereto should be
relieved from further annoyance or litigation. chanroblesvi rtua lawlib rary c hanro bles vi rtua l law li bra ry

It must follow, therefore, inasmuch as it appears by express


admission of the plaintiff itself that the expropriation is not for
a public use, that the complaint should be dismissed. But dismissed
under what conditions? It will be remembered that the defendants
contend that they have been greatly annoyed and have suffered
greatly damages by this litigation. They have been dispossessed of
their property for a number of years; they have been deprived of
their right to reap the rents and profits from said land. It is alleged
that certain damages have been occasioned to the land by
destruction of improvements thereon; that they have been
compelled to incur great expense in the employment of attorneys,
etc. Should not the plaintiff, for causing such damages to the
defendants, be required under the facts in the present case to
answer for all the damages so occasioned to the defendants? That
question must certainly be answered in the affirmative. chanro blesvi rt ualawlib ra ry chan robles v irt ual law li bra ry

Therefore, in view of all of the facts of the record, we are forced to


the conclusion that the motion to dismiss the action should be, and
is hereby granted, with costs, upon the following conditions:
( a) That the record be returned to the lower court and that a writ
of possession issue, ordering and directing the petitioner to return
to the defendants the possession of the land in question
immediately and that the defendants be permitted to have,
whatever damages they have suffered, determined either in this or
a separate action instituted for that purpose, which claim for
damages must be presented within a period of thirty days from the
return of this record to the court of its origin and notice thereof;
and chanroble s virtual law lib rary

( b) That whether the question of the determination of damages be


in this or a separate action the lower court should take into
consideration, for the purpose of determining the amount of
damages, the following: (1) The loss resulting from the
dispossession of the land; (2) the loss resulting from the deprivation
of the use and occupation of the land; (3) the expenses incurred
during the pendency of this action, including attorney's fees, etc.;
(4) the destruction of buildings, canals and growing crops at the
time of the occupation of the land by the petitioner; and (5) all of
the damages of whatever kind or character which the defendants
may be able to prove and which have been occasioned by virtue of
the institution of the present action. So ordered.
G.R. No. 78343 May 21, 1988

HEIRS OF RICARDO OLIVAS, represented by POMPEYO F. OLIVAS, petitioners,


vs.
THE HON. FLORENTINO A. FLOR (Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Fourth Judicial
Region, Branch 79, Morong, Rizal), JOSE A. MATAWARAN, respondents.

Belo, Abiera & Associates for petitioners.

Domingo Z. Legaspi for respondents.

RESOLUTION

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:

This Petition for Review on certiorari seeks to set aside the Decision of the respondent Regional
Trial Court, Branch 79, Morong, Rizal, in the ejectment case entitled "Heirs of Ricardo Olivas vs.
Jose Matawaran" (Civil Case No. 227-M), which affirmed the Order of the Municipal Trial Court of
Morong, Rizal ordering the dismissal of said case.
The background facts disclose that:

On 16 May 1986, petitioners filed a complaint for Forcible Entry before the Municipal Trial Court of
Morong, Rizal (MTC, for short), alleging that private respondent, through stealth and strategy,
urlawfully took possession of the disputed property and ousted petitioners from their possession
thereof.

The MTC issued summons stating that the Rule on Summary Procedure in Special Cases shall
apply. On 29 May 1986, private respondent filed an Answer with Counterclaim stating, inter alia:

3. Paragraph 4 of the complaint is admitted insofar as the fact that defendant did
complain to the Barangay Chairman regarding the repeated attempts of plaintiff to
unlawfully grab possession of the property owned by defendant and his other
brothers and sisters.

On 30 June 1986, the MTC granted the Temporary Restraining Order petitioners prayed for.

On 15 August 1986, the MTC required the parties to submit position papers within ten (10) days.

On 19 September 1986, or approximately four (4) months after the filing of the Answer, private
respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss alleging that the case should be dismissed outright for failure to
state a cause of action. Petitioners submitted an Opposition contending that a Motion to Dismiss is a
prohibited pleading under the Rule on Summary Procedure.

On 29 December 1986, the MTC dismissed the case for failure of petitioners' Complaint to state a
cause of action in that it failed to Identify sufficiently the land subject matter of this case.

An appeal was seasonably interposed by petitioners to respondent Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 79, Morong, Rizal.

On 28 April 1987, Respondent RTC rendered a Decision affirming in toto the dismissal of the case
by the MTC.

Before us now, petitioners maintain that the MTC Decision is violative of the Rule on Summary
Procedure, and that Respondent RTC erred in affirming the MTC's dismissal of the case.

We resolved to give due course to the Petition finding, as we do, merit in the foregoing submissions.

Compliance by the MTC with the Rules on Summary Procedure in Special Cases was wanting. For
example, 'a preliminary conference during which the Court must clarify and define the issues of the
case, which must be clearly and distinctly set forth in the Order to be issued immediately after such
preliminary conference" (Section 6), was not -followed. Neither was Section 7 thereof which further
requires that within ten (10) days from receipt of the said order, "the parties shall submit the
affidavits of witnesses and other evidences on the factual issues defined therein, together with a
brief statement of their positions setting forth the law and the facts relied upon by them."

In the guise of a position paper, private respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss. While this is, indeed, a
prohibited pleading (Sec. 15[a], Rule on Summary Procedure) it should be noted that the Motion was
filed after an Answer had already been submitted within the reglementary period. In essence,
therefore, it is not the pleading prohibited by the Rule on Summary Procedure. What the Rule
prescribes is a Motion to Dismiss, which would stop the running of the period to file an Answer and
cause undue delay.

Be that as it may, dismissal of the case by the MTC, as affirmed by Respondent RTC, for failure to
state a cause of action, is not in order. The description of the land in the Complaint, quoted
hereunder, may, indeed, have been wanting:

Bounded on the North, by Francisco Ramos; on the East by Ramon Aquino &
Cipriano Aquino; on the South by Felisa Aquino; on the West by Casimiro, Francisco
& Benito Ramos.

Nonetheless, private respondent's Answer (paragraph 3, supra) left no room for doubt that the
parties were acquainted with the Identity of the disputed property. It would be sheer technicality,
destructive of the ends of substantial justice, were the case to be dismissed on the ground of lack of
particularity of the disputed property. In fact, if the Rule on Summary Procedure had been followed,
such additional data as were needed to define the issues of the case could have been threshed out
in the preliminary conference. 1

It is true that the Rule on Summary Procedure allows the dismissal of a case outright due to failure
to state a cause of action. 2 However, such dismissal is a permissible upon the filing of the complaint
from a consideration by the Court of the allegations thereof. In this case, the proceedings had gone far
afield. The outright dismissal was not ordered upon the filing of the complaint. On the contrary, the MTC
made a determination that the case falls under summary procedure, issued summons stating that fact,
and subsequently even issued a Temporary Restraining Order.

ACCORDINGLY, the Decision under review is hereby SET ASIDE and this case is hereby ordered
remanded to the Municipal Trial Court of Morong, Rizal, for further proceedings on the merits . No
costs.

SO ORDERED.

Subject Shall Be Expressed in the Title Police Power Not Validly Exercise
Vicente De La Cruz et al were club & cabaret operators. They assail the constitutionality of
Ord. No. 84, Ser. of 1975 or the Prohibition and Closure Ordinance of Bocaue, Bulacan. De
la Cruz averred that the said Ordinance violates their right to engage in a lawful business for
the said ordinance would close out their business. That the hospitality girls they employed
are healthy and are not allowed to go out with customers. Judge Paras however lifted the
TRO he earlier issued against Ord. 84 after due hearing declaring that Ord 84. is
constitutional for it is pursuant to RA 938 which reads AN ACT GRANTING MUNICIPAL
OR CITY BOARDS AND COUNCILS THE POWER TO REGULATE THE
ESTABLISHMENT, MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION OF CERTAIN PLACES OF
AMUSEMENT WITHIN THEIR RESPECTIVE TERRITORIAL JURISDICTIONS. Paras
ruled that the prohibition is a valid exercise of police power to promote general welfare. De
la Cruz then appealed citing that they were deprived of due process.
ISSUE: Whether or not a municipal corporation, Bocaue, Bulacan can, prohibit the exercise
of a lawful trade, the operation of night clubs, and the pursuit of a lawful occupation, such
clubs employing hostesses pursuant to Ord 84 which is further in pursuant to RA 938.
HELD: The SC ruled against Paras. If night clubs were merely then regulated and not
prohibited, certainly the assailed ordinance would pass the test of validity. SC had stressed
reasonableness, consonant with the general powers and purposes of municipal
corporations, as well as consistency with the laws or policy of the State. It cannot be said
that such a sweeping exercise of a lawmaking power by Bocaue could qualify under the
term reasonable. The objective of fostering public morals, a worthy and desirable end can
be attained by a measure that does not encompass too wide a field. Certainly the ordinance
on its face is characterized by overbreadth. The purpose sought to be achieved could have
been attained by reasonable restrictions rather than by an absolute prohibition. Pursuant to
the title of the Ordinance, Bocaue should and can only regulate not prohibit the business of
cabarets.

EN BANC

FRANCISCO P. OCAMPO, A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2630-RTJ


Complainant,

- versus -

JUDGE EVELYN S. ARCAYA-


CHUA, Regional Trial Court,
Branch 144, Makati City,
Respondent.
x-----------------------------------------x
OFFICE OF THE COURT A.M. No. RTJ-07-2049
ADMINISTRATOR,
Complainant,

- versus -

JUDGE EVELYN S. ARCAYA-


CHUA, Regional Trial Court,
Branch 144, Makati City,
Respondent.
x-----------------------------------------x
OFFICE OF THE COURT A.M. No. RTJ-08-2141
ADMINISTRATOR, (Formerly A.M. No. 07-5-263- RTC/
Re: Initial Report on the Judicial Audit
Complainant, Conducted at the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 144, Makati City)

- versus -
JUDGE EVELYN S. ARCAYA-
CHUA, Regional Trial Court,
Branch 144, Makati City, and
COURT STENOGRAPHER
VICTORIA C. JAMORA,
Regional Trial Court, Branch
144, Makati City,
Respondents.
x-----------------------------------------x A.M. No. RTJ-07-2093
SYLVIA SANTOS,
Complainant,
PUNO, C.J.,
CARPIO,
-versus- CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
VELASCO, JR.,
JUDGE EVELYN S. ARCAYA- NACHURA,
CHUA, Regional Trial Court, LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
Branch 144, Makati City, BRION,
Respondent. PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD,
VILLARAMA, JR.,
PEREZ, and
MENDOZA, JJ.

Promulgated:
April 23, 2010
x---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

PER CURIAM:
These consolidated cases[1] stemmed from the administrative complaints filed
against respondent Judge Evelyn S. Arcaya-Chua. A decision has been rendered in
A.M. No. RTJ-07-2093, entitled Sylvia Santos v. Judge Evelyn S. Arcaya-Chua,
from which the respondent sought reconsideration. The immediately preceding
case was consolidated with the subsequent administrative complaints filed against
respondent Judge in a Resolution dated April 14, 2009 of the Court en banc.
A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2630-RTJ

In A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2630-RTJ (the Ocampo Case), Francisco P.


Ocampo charged respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua with harassment, grave abuse of
authority, gross ignorance of the law, gross misconduct, manifest partiality and/or
conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
In his letter-complaint dated April 24, 2007 to the Office of the Court
Administrator (OCA), Francisco Ocampo stated that he was the respondent in
Special Proceedings (SP) No. M-6375, entitled Milan Arceo Ocampo v. Francisco
P. Ocampo, which was pending before the sala of respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua.

On November 27, 2006, Francisco Ocampo's wife, Milan Arceo Ocampo,


filed a petition claiming the sole custody of their minor daughters, namely, Ma.
Francesca P. Ocampo (Francesca), born on June 1, 1994, and Ma. Fatima Patricia
A. Ocampo (Fatima), born on October 13, 1995. Summons was served upon
Francisco Ocampo on December 12, 2006 and the case was set for hearing the
following day, December 13, 2006.

During the hearing, upon agreement of the parties, respondent Judge issued
an Order enjoining Francisco Ocampo from taking their minor daughters out of the
country without the court's permission and directing him to allow his wife, Milan,
visitation rights over their minor daughters in their residence in Meycauayan,
Bulacan. Since then, Milan exercised visitation rights over the minors and
communicated with them through their cellular phones. Francisco Ocampo filed a
motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction, alleging that he
and Milan were residents and registered voters of Meycauayan, Bulacan. He then
served written interrogatories to his wife, and presented testimonial and
documentary evidence to prove that his wife was not really a resident
of Makati City.
In an Order dated March 22, 2007, respondent Judge denied the motion to
dismiss. Francisco Ocampo questioned the dismissal of his motion
since Milan never presented any evidence to controvert the evidence which he
submitted in support of his motion to dismiss.

Francisco Ocampo, thereafter, filed a motion for reconsideration, which was


likewise denied by respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua in an Order dated April 3,
2007. On even date, respondent Judge issued a Temporary Protection Order
(TPO), requiring complainant Ocampo to turn over the custody of their minor
daughters to his wife, to stay away from his wife's residence at 1211 West Ayala
Condominium, 252 Gil Puyat Ave., Makati City, to refrain from committing acts
that would harass, intimidate or threaten and create an unreasonable risk to the
health, safety or welfare of their minor daughters and his wife, and to provide
monthly support of P50,000.00 to their minor daughters and his wife, exclusive of
expenses for medication and education.

Francisco Ocampo faulted respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua for issuing


the TPO as the period to file his answer had not yet expired when respondent
Judge issued the said Order. Moreover, he was directed to give monthly support
of P50,000.00 to his wife and minor daughters, even if his wife alleged that he is
not the father of the said minors and in the absence of any factual finding as to the
resources of the giver and the necessities of the recipient. In directing the payment
of support to his wife, respondent Judge also ignored the factual circumstances
relating to the adulterous relations of his wife and the pendency of the legal
separation case based on his wife's sexual infidelity and abandonment.
Francisco Ocampo further alleged that respondent Judge caused the
implementation of the TPO as if it was a matter of life and death. When her branch
sheriff was not available, respondent Judge dispatched another sheriff to
implement the Order. Around 6:00 a.m. on April 5, 2007, a Maundy Thursday, the
sheriff dispatched by respondent Judge barged into the home of Francisco
Ocampos parents in Baguio City and woke up all the occupants therein. At that
time, Francisco Ocampo, his minor daughters and family were having their Holy
Week vacation. The sheriff went inside the house and opened the rooms against the
will of the occupants and without regard to their privacy. When the sheriff learned
that Francesca and Fatima were still sleeping, he demanded that they be roused
from their sleep, even as Ocampo assured him that he will peacefully bring his
minor daughters to his wife. The sheriff also insisted that Francisco Ocampo pay
the support of P50,000.00 right there and then, although he was told by Francisco
that he did not have such amount of money. Francesca and Fatima refused to go
with the sheriff, but because of the court order, Francisco Ocampo told them to go
with him.

Francisco Ocampo then filed a motion for inhibition, as well as an urgent ex


parte motion to recall or rectify the Order dated April 3, 2007, but both motions
were denied by respondent Judge in an Order dated April 13, 2007.
The irregular acts attributed to respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua are as
follows: (1) she denied the motion to dismiss filed by Francisco Ocampo,
respondent therein, despite overwhelming evidence submitted that therein
petitioner was not a resident of Makati City; (2) she scheduled the hearing of the
case immediately a day after the summons was served on therein respondent; (3)
she issued a TPO despite the fact that therein respondent's period to file an Answer
had not yet lapsed; (4) she ordered the payment of support without sufficient basis;
and (5) she caused the implementation of the TPO over-zealously, even
designating a special sheriff to serve it in Baguio City on a Maundy Thursday.
These, coupled with complainant Ocampo's account that respondent Judge
demanded money from his wife, constitute the first set of charges filed against her.

In her Comment,[2] respondent Judge explained that the order setting SP No.
M-6375 for hearing on the petitioner's application for a TPO and Hold Departure
Order was issued on December 8, 2006, a Friday, and was received for service by
the Process Server on the same day. Based on the officer's return, the Order was
attempted to be served twice by the Process Server on December 11, 2006, a
Monday, at complainant Francisco Ocampo's house, but nobody was there.
On December 12, 2006, substituted service was resorted to by the Process Server.

Respondent Judge stated that the hearing could not have been set earlier
since the court calendar was full, nor later, because December 13, 2006 was the
last hearing date, before the court went on Christmas recess, for cases requiring the
presence of the public prosecutor. While Francisco Ocampo may have felt harassed
by the suddenness of the court hearing, respondent Judge professed that she did not
have such intention. The nature of therein petitioner's prayers required immediate
action by the court and the December 8, 2006 Order could have been served on
him on December 11, 2006, but, as previously mentioned, was unsuccessful.

Respondent Judge pointed out that had complainant Ocampo really felt
harassed by the suddenness of the hearing, he could have complained during the
hearing of December 13, 2006. Nonetheless, he never brought such issue to the
attention of the court, until the filing of the administrative complaint, or four (4)
months after the fact. At any rate, the scheduled hearing on December 13, 2006 did
not push through because Francisco Ocampo filed a motion to dismiss on the same
day. Francisco Ocampo himself set the hearing of his motion for reconsideration of
the Order dated March 22, 2007 Order (which denied the Motion to Dismiss)
on April 3, 2007, a Holy Tuesday. For utter lack of merit, reconsideration was
denied and the TPO was issued on the same day.

Respondent Judge stated that the issuance of the TPO was anchored on the
provision of Section 5 of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9262. The Court also took into
account the provisions of Articles 176 and 220 of the Family Code, which deal
with the right of the mother to exercise parental authority over illegitimate children
and her right to keep them in her company. Moreover, Francisco Ocampos
contention in his Answer that he was not contesting his wifes claim that the subject
minors were not his children bolstered the propriety of the award of custody over
the subject minors to his wife, Milan.

Respondent Judge asserted that she was not over-zealous in causing the
implementation of the TPO, as the law itself mandates that the court order the
immediate personal service of the TPO on the respondent. The Order that directed
the implementation of the TPO was dated April 4, 2007, and it was received
by Milan's counsel on the same day. Sheriff Manuel Q. Tangangco was deputized
to serve it since the Branch Sheriff was not available. Milan Ocampo herself and
her counsel coordinated with the sheriff regarding its service, also on the same day.
Respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua explained that had she opted to defer action on
Milan's prayer for the issuance of a TPO as well as its implementation, it would
have been Milan who would have charged her administratively, considering that
the Petition was filed as early as November 23, 2006, but the proceedings on the
merits were delayed due to the filing by Francisco Ocampo of a Motion to
Dismiss. In fact, therein petitioner, Milan Ocampo, filed on February 1, 2007
an Omnibus Motion (To Resolve Petitioner's Application for a Permanent
Protection Order, etc.), claiming that Francisco Ocampo's motion to dismiss was
purely dilatory.
As regards the date, time and manner the TPO was served by the sheriff,
respondent Judge maintained that she was not privy to it, since the said TPO would
have been served on April 4, 2007, pursuant to the Order bearing the same date.
The sheriff's arrogance, if any, was his personal accountability.

Respondent Judge noted that the Sheriffs Report and handwritten notation
on the lower portion of the Order dated April 3, 2007, which was also signed by
Kagawad Artemio S. Zaparita of Baguio City and SP04 Arthur A. Curno of the
Baguio City Police, stated that respondent Francisco Ocampo voluntarily turned
over the custody of subject minors to the petitioner. During the hearing on May 10,
2007, the subject minors themselves belied the claims of Francisco Ocampo
regarding the alleged arbitrary manner the TPO was served by the
sheriff. Respondent Judge also pointed out that the court did not receive any
complaint from Francisco Ocampo or anyone concerned about the manner the TPO
was served. It was only in the present administrative complaint that the same was
raised, leading to the inference that Francisco Ocampos claims were concocted.

Respondent Judge maintained that it was irrelevant that the subject minors
may not have been in danger, but were safe in the custody of complainant
Francisco Ocampo. The court arrived at a preliminary determination that Milan,
being the biological mother and the subject minors being her illegitimate children,
was entitled to custody over them. Moreover, Milan may have been granted and
was exercising visitation rights over subject minors, yet the duration thereof, as
stated in the Order dated December 13, 2006, was only until the court resolved
complainant Ocampo's Motion to Dismiss, which was resolved with finality
on April 3, 2007. Further, there is a whale of a difference between exercise of
visitation rights and custody. During the hearing on May 10, 2007, subject minors,
who were over seven years old, declared that they preferred to stay with their
mother, Milan Ocampo, and likewise confirmed the physical violence committed
by complainant Francisco Ocampo against Milan Ocampo.
According to respondent Judge, Milan Ocampos prayer for the issuance of a
TPO and a Permanent Protection Order (PPO) was anchored mainly on R.A. No.
9262. Section 15 of R.A. No. 9262 is explicit that the TPO should be issued by the
court on the date of the filing of the application after ex parte determination that
such order should be issued. Milan's prayer for the issuance of a TPO and a PPO,
based on R.A. No. 9262, was incorporated in the Petition that was filed as early
as November 23, 2006. Thus, it was not necessary for the court to await the filing
of complainant Ocampo's Answer or the expiry of the period within which to file it
before issuing the TPO.

Respondent Judge explained that the award of support was in favor


of Milan alone as the legal wife of complainant Ocampo. This was clarified in an
Order dated April 16, 2007. Among Milan's prayers in her Petition was for an
award of monthly support of not less than P150,000.00, but the court awarded
only P50,000.00, as that was the amount found reasonable by it. At any rate, the
support granted by the court was only temporary. Likewise, although complainant
Francisco Ocampo had not yet complied with the directive to give support as
alleged by Milan, the court did not impose a sanction against him precisely
because the court was then completing the hearing for the issuance of a
TPO. Moreover, Francisco Ocampo had really no reason to complain about the
award of support, because the directive to provide monthly support was already
held in abeyance in the Order dated May 2, 2007.

Respondent Judge stated that Francisco Ocampo's allegations


regarding Milan's adulterous relationships and the legal separation case do not
have any bearing on SP No. M-6375.

She further asserted that, as can be gleaned from the records, the courses of
action taken by the counsel of complainant Francisco Ocampo did not conform to
normal rules of procedure. One, on April 10, 2007, he filed a Motion for Voluntary
Inhibition, but two days later, or on April 12, 2007, he still filed an Urgent Ex
Parte Motion to Recall or Rectify Order dated April 3, 2007. Two, on April 24,
2007, he filed the instant administrative complaint, but two days later, or on April
26, 2007, he still filed an Opposition to Petitioner's Motion dated April 23, 2007
with Ex Parte Motion for Examination of the Minors, and a day later, on April 24,
2007, filed a Second Motion to Inhibit. Respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua
asseverated that from all appearances, the administrative complaint was filed for
the sole objective of compelling her to inhibit herself from handling SP No. M-
6375. Three, on May 11, 2007, he filed a Motion to Terminate Proceedings, which
was an indication that complainant Ocampo did not really have any genuine
administrative cause of action against her. As things turned out, all that
complainant Ocampo wanted to hear from the subject minors was their declaration
that they preferred to stay with their mother.

A.M. No. RTJ-07-2049

In A.M. No. RTJ-07-2049 (the Chang Tan/RCBC Case), the OCA, through
then Court Administrator Christopher O. Lock, informed the Office of the Chief
Justice in a Memorandum dated May 11, 2007 of the reports about the rampant
selling of TPOs and PPOs in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City,
Branch 144, which was the sala presided by respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua.

The said reports were thereafter confirmed by Judges Winlove M. Dumayas,


Marissa Macaraig-Guillen, Tranquil P. Salvador and Jenny Lind Aldecoa-
Delorino, particularly with respect to SP Case No. M-6373, entitled Albert K. S.
Chang Tan II v. Stephanie Estrella Pulliam, a child custody case.

In a Resolution[3] dated June 5, 2007, the Court resolved to treat the


Memorandum of Court Administrator Christopher O. Lock as a complaint for
gross ignorance and gross misconduct against Judge Arcaya-Chua, directed
respondent Judge to file a Comment on the complaint within 10 days from receipt
of notice, and suspended respondent Judge pending resolution of the administrative
case.

It appears that on May 7, 2007, respondent Judge issued a TPO in the said
case, granting, among others, the custody of the subject minor, Rafi Pulliam, to
therein petitioner, Albert Chang Tan, and directing therein respondent, Stephanie
Pulliam, to stay away from the home and office of Chang Tan as well as from the
school of the subject minor. Per the sheriff's return dated May 8, 2007, the Order
was not fully implemented insofar as the custody of the subject minor was directed
to be turned over to Chang Tan. This development irked Chang Tan, resulting in a
heated argument between Chang Tan and the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of Branch
144. Chang Tan insisted that a break open order be issued or that the sheriff be
permitted to enter the premises of Pulliam's house to search for the child and then
bring her to court. On the same day, May 8, 2007, respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua
issued an order authorizing the
sheriff to enter the open premises where subject minor may be found for the
purpose of turning over custody to petitioner, but is admonished to maintain peace
and order in the conduct thereof.
According to OCA, although it was not shown that Judge Arcaya-Chua
received money from Chang Tan in exchange for the issuance of the TPO, the facts
clearly indicate that she was remiss in issuing the TPO. Her speedy issuance of the
Orders dated May 7, 2007 and May 8, 2007 not only showed her unusual interest
in the case, but it also appeared that the Order dated May 8, 2007 was tailor-fitted
to suit the wishes of Chang Tan, as expressed in the latter's heated argument with
the OIC of Branch 144.

OCA also pointed out that it was not the only case wherein respondent Judge
displayed unusual interest. On April 17, 2007, Judge Zenaida Galapate-Laguilles
of RTC, Branch 143, Makati City issued an order in Civil Case No. 07-352,
entitled Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) v. Moreno, setting the
application for a writ of preliminary attachment for hearing on May 9, 2007. In
view of the leave of absence of Judge Galapate-Laguilles, respondent Judge was
later designated as the pairing judge. On April 20, 2007, respondent, as pairing
judge, cancelled the previously scheduled May 9, 2007 hearing and re-scheduled
the hearing to April 23, 2007, where she ordered the issuance of a writ of
preliminary attachment in favor of RCBC. According to OCA, what was highly
suspicious in respondents actuation was that there was really no urgency in the
application for a writ of preliminary attachment.

In her Comment[4] dated June 9, 2007, respondent Judge explained that SP


No. M-6373, entitled Albert K. S. Chang Tan II v. Stephanie Estrella Pulliam, was
originally raffled to the RTC of Makati City, Branch 60 under Judge Marissa
Macaraig-Guillen. After Judge Macaraig-Guillen recused from the case, it was re-
raffled to her branch on April 30, 2007, and the records of the case were
transmitted to her on the same day.
Respondent Judge explained that the May 7, 2007 Order is justified under
Sections 8 and 15 of R.A. No. 9262, as well as under Circular No. 03-04-04-SC,
which specifically applies to a petition for custody of minors. Contrary to OCAs
finding that the application filed by petitioner Chang Tan in SP No. M-6373 did
not contain the requisite allegation of violence committed by therein respondent
Stephanie Pulliam on her minor child, Rafi, paragraph 17 of the Application was
explicit that a complaint for child abuse was filed against Stephanie Pulliam, based
on, among other evidence, a handwritten letter of Rafi wherein she enumerated the
many abuses that her mother had committed upon her. The complaint for child
abuse was attached as an annex to the Application as well as to the Petition. Other
annexes attached to the Application, mentioning in detail the acts of violence
committed by Stephanie Pulliam against Rafi, consisted of the statements
of yaya Josie Leynes and Rafi herself, as well as the Psychiatric Evaluation Report
of Dr. Sonia Rodriguez.

Respondent Judge stated that although Article 176 of the Family


Code provides that an illegitimate child shall be under the parental authority of the
mother, an exception is when the court orders otherwise. The mother may be
divested of her parental authority over her illegitimate child when the court finds
compelling reasons to do so. In all cases involving a child, his best interest is of
paramount consideration. The court awarded provisional custody over the subject
minor and a TPO in favor of therein petitioner Chang Tan, but effective for a
period of 30 days only, after a careful consideration of the allegations in the
pleadings and the supporting documentary evidence. Rafi was already more than
seven years old at the time the Order dated May 7, 2007 was issued, as evidenced
by her Certificate of Live Birth.

Respondent Judge countered that the Order dated May 7, 2007 was not
speedily issued. As was her standard operating procedure with respect to newly
raffled and re-raffled cases, she immediately studied the records of SP No. M-
6373. Even before Chang Tan's Application was filed on May 4, 2007, she had
already arrived at a preliminary determination that the issuance of a Provisional
Order and a TPO was warranted. She also studied Chang Tan's Application on the
same day it was filed, a Friday. Her study thereof continued the following day, a
Saturday, also in her office. She was then planning to avail of her forfeitable leave
of absence of 30 days in June 2007, inasmuch as she did not avail of the same the
previous year. To expedite the resolution of motions and preparation of decisions,
and to avoid being saddled with much work on her return from her leave, she had
been reporting to her office on alternate Saturdays beginning April 2007. SP No.
M-6373 was not the only case that she studied on that Saturday, but other cases as
well. Her study of SP No. M-6373 resumed on Monday, May 7, 2007, which
culminated in the issuance of an Order at almost lunchtime of the same day.
Granting that the one week period in which she issued the May 7, 2007 Order may
be considered speedy, such circumstance should not be taken against her as she
was really a fast worker. She was accustomed to speedy preparation of orders and
decisions as a result of her training in the Supreme Court as a Court Attorney for
13 years.
Respondent Judge maintained that it was necessary to
implement the Order dated May 7, 2007 at once, because the courts are so
mandated to cause the immediate implementation of the TPO under Section 15,
R.A. No. 9262.

As regards the alleged heated argument between Chang Tan and the OIC of
Branch 144, respondent Judge surmised that the same could be merely concocted,
as it was neither reported to her nor brought to her attention. Moreover, the doors
of her chambers were always wide open and she could have clearly heard it if it
really transpired.

Respondent Judge averred that during the hearing dated May 11, 2007,
she gave a directive holding in abeyance further implementation of the May 7,
2007 Order. Thus, she asserted that if she really received money or anything from
Chang Tan or from anybody in his behalf, she would have ensured complete
implementation of the Order dated May 7, 2007, instead of holding it in abeyance.
Moreover, she should have declared Pulliam and her counsel guilty of the indirect
contempt charge against them if it were really true that she received money from
Chang Tan.

Respondent Judge stated that if it were true that she had been engaged in
rampant selling of TPO/PPO or any order in her branch, she and her family would
not have found themselves in such state of financial drain after she had been
preventively suspended.
As regards her participation in Civil Case No. 07-352, entitled Rizal
Commercial Banking Corporation v. Moreno, respondent Judge narrated that an Ex
Parte Motion for Immediate Resolution of Prayer for the Issuance of Writs of
Preliminary Attachment was forwarded to her sala being the Pairing Judge of
Branch 143. Immediately after reading the motion, she inquired from the Clerk of
Court of Branch 143 about the alleged leave of absence of therein Presiding Judge
Zenaida Galapate Laguilles. She learned that Judge Galapate-Laguilles indeed left
for the United States on April 19, 2007 to attend a convention on Intellectual
Property and would be back on May 7, 2007. She likewise gathered information
from the same Branch Clerk of Court that Judge Galapate-Laguilles's trip abroad
was the reason behind the Application's setting on May 9, 2007, not because the
Presiding Judge did not see any urgency in the Application. The Presiding Judge
also lacked ample time to act thereon since she had a previously scheduled leave of
absence. Thus, she determined from the allegations in the ex parte Motion and the
Complaint the urgency to act on the prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary
attachment. She also took into account the following: (1) the circumstance of
prolonged absence of the Presiding Judge of Branch 143; (2) the reason for the
setting on May 9, 2007; and (3) the mandatory wordings of Supreme Court
Circular No. 19-98, i.e., the judge of the paired court shall take cognizance of all
cases thereat as acting judge therein.

Respondent Judge explained that she granted the Application because the
allegations in the complaint were adequately supported by documentary and
testimonial evidence. She received the records of the RCBC Case on April 20,
2007, a Friday, and as was her standard practice, immediately studied them. She
continued her study of the records, and the records of other cases, on April 21,
2007, a Saturday, and on April 23, 2007, a Monday, which culminated in the
preparation of the Order on the same day.
In her Supplemental Comment[5] dated June 22, 2007, respondent
Judge added that the manner by which the incidents in the Chang Tan and RCBC
cases were resolved must not be taken in isolation, but in relation to the manner all
incidents were resolved and all decisions and orders were rendered in her sala,
such that she resolved all incidents and rendered all her rulings immediately.

A.M. No. RTJ-08-2141


In A.M. No. RTJ-08-2141 (the Judicial Audit Case), a judicial audit was
conducted on May 15 to 17, 2007 at the RTC of Makati City, Branch 144, which
was the sala presided by respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua, following reports of
alleged irregularities committed by respondent.
In a Memorandum dated August 10, 2007 by the OCA to Chief Justice
Reynato S. Puno, Court Administrator Christopher O. Lock submitted for the
Courts consideration the initial report of the Judicial Audit Team, informing the
Court of an incident that happened on May 17, 2007 in Branch 144 of the RTC
of Makati City.

The initial audit report stated that as early as May 12, 2007, a Saturday, the
Court ordered the padlocking of Branch 144 and assigned guards thereat on a 24-
hour basis. Before the audit team began its audit on May 15, 2007, the members
made it clear to OIC Victoria C. Jamora and the court personnel present that
actions on the records, including stitching should be held in abeyance and that no
records should be brought outside the court until after the audit.

At 8:05 a.m. of May 17, 2007, the guards on duty, Joel Gregorio and
Alexander Dayap, noticed Salvador Indicio, Jr., Utility Worker I of Branch 144,
disposing a plastic bag. The guards followed Indicio, and retrieved the plastic bag
from a trash bin located right outside the court. The plastic bag was surrendered to
the audit team and was found to contain copies of marriage certificates of
marriages solemnized by Judge Chua numbering to hundreds. When confronted,
Indicio stated that he was disposing the documents upon respondent Judge's
instruction made several days ago. He could not offer any explanation why he
chose to dispose of the documents that morning despite the ongoing audit. He,
nonetheless, disclosed that there were other bags for disposal still kept inside the
room where the stenographers, particularly OIC Victoria C. Jamora, held office.
The bags, when retrieved, turned out to contain more copies of marriage
certificates. Jamora explained to the audit team that she was aware of the copies of
marriage certificates being kept inside their room. However, she alleged that she
had no control over them, because matters pertaining to solemnization of marriages
were personally handled by Judge Arcaya-Chua.
In A.M. No. RTJ-08-2141, respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua was charged in
connection with the 1,975 copies of marriage certificates for marriages she
solemnized for the period covering January 2004 to April 2007 for the following
acts: (1) for allegedly ordering Salvador Indicio, Jr., Utility Worker I, to dispose of
the said copies of marriage certificates; (2) for the unpaid marriage solemnization
fees of one thousand eight hundred nine (1,809) marriages as verified from the
Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Office of the Clerk of Court (OCC), Makati
City and the RTC, OCC, Makati City, thereby depriving the Court of the said fees
in the total amount of Five Hundred Forty-Two Thousand Seven Hundred Pesos
(P542,700.00) at the rate of Three Hundred Pesos (P300.00) per marriage; and (3)
for failing to reflect said marriages in the Monthly Report of Cases.[6]
In a Resolution[7] dated September 16, 2008, the Court resolved to consider
the Memorandum dated August 10, 2007 of the OCA as a formal complaint against
respondent Judge; require respondents Judge Arcaya-Chua and Victoria Jamora to
comment on the Memorandum within 10 days from notice thereof; and refer A.M.
OCA IPI No. 07-2630-RTJ and A.M. No. RTJ-07-2049 to Associate Justice
Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando of the Court of Appeals for investigation, report
and recommendation.
On February 10, 2009, respondent Judge filed her Affidavit,[8] in lieu of
Comment, on the OCA Memorandum dated August 10, 2007.

Re: Ordering Salvador Indicio, Jr. to dispose of the copies of


marriage certificates

In regard to the disposal of the marriage certificates, respondent Judge


Arcaya-Chua recounted that in the second week of April 2007, she, with the help
of Noel Umipig (a City Hall employee detailed to her sala), started to pack her
personal belongings in anticipation of the impending transfer of her sala from
the Gusali ng Katarungan to the Makati City Hall. She asked Umipig to discard
her piles of yellowish scratch papers. Umipig put her scratch papers inside big
plastic bags and then tied the bags. They also emptied the steel cabinet in her
chambers which contained, among other things, the files of marriage certificates,
as well as official receipts of the marriage solemnization fees. She previously
bundled the said marriage certificates according to month and year of
solemnization of the weddings, improvising paper bundles for the purpose. Umipig
then put all the marriage certificates inside four, more or less, big plastic bags and
placed them in the small room that was between her chambers and
the stenographers' room. They were kept untied so that it would be easy to add or
get a file. Immediately thereafter, Umipig asked permission to go home as he was
then getting allergic reactions due to the dust, then took with him the bags of
scratch papers out of her chambers to be thrown away. The following morning, she
noticed that there were red patches on the face and arms of Umipig so she did not
ask him anymore for help. She removed the official receipts of the marriage
solemnization fees from the worn-out boxes, wrapped them with approximately
six paper bundles then placed them inside the plastic bags containing the marriage
certificates.

In the first week of May 2007, she was told by the City Hall Engineer that
the transfer to the Makati City Hall would not push through yet because the
furnitures were not complete and portions of the holding room were still being
painted. She was told to just standby and to wait for an update about the schedule
of transfer. With that advice, she did not find it necessary to return the files of
marriage certificates and official receipts of the marriage solemnization fees inside
the steel cabinet.
About the second week of May 2007, upon learning that the bags of
garbage had accumulated, she reminded Salvador Indicio, Jr. to throw them away.
On May 15, 2007, she was placed under preventive suspension. On May 18, 2007,
Indicio told her, through telephone, that he was caught the previous day throwing
marriage certificates that were placed in plastic bags. He explained that he thought
those bags contained the garbage that she asked him to throw away the previous
week. She was then outraged by the news and scolded Indicio, telling him that
under the law, it is her duty to maintain copies of marriage certificates being the
solemnizing officer. In fact, Indicio stated in his affidavit that her specific
instruction was "to dispose all the garbage which were stocked" in her sala and "it
just turned out that what the plastic bag contained were copies of marriage
contracts." Thus, Indicio simply mistook the plastic bags containing the marriage
certificates and official receipts of the marriage solemnization fees to be the
garbage that she instructed him the previous week to throw away.

Respondent Judge stressed that she did not and would not have ordered
Indicio to dispose of the copies of the marriage certificates, citing the haphazard
manner in which Indicio disposed of the same, and the fact that she had nothing to
hide and that she would gain nothing by the disposal thereof.

Re: Unpaid marriage solemnization fees

Respondent Judge averred that the best proofs of payment of the marriage
solemnization fees were the official receipts. She categorically stated that all the
official receipts of the marriage solemnization fees were inside the plastic bags,
together with the marriage certificates.

She stressed that she could not have allowed non-payment of the marriage
solemnization fees, because it is of public knowledge that she had been
solemnizing a big number of weddings per day, aside from the fact that she had
solemnized weddings of several celebrities, which also included celebrities as
sponsors; thus, attracting the attention of many court employees. She was also
aware of the consequences of solemnizing a marriage without the solemnization
fee so she was very meticulous when it came to checking, among other things,
whether there was an official receipt evidencing payment of said fee. She also
knew that the Office of the Civil Registrar of Makati City would not allow the
registration of a marriage certificate if there was no accompanying official receipt
of payment of the marriage solemnization fee. Moreover, considering the
pervading financial crisis everywhere, any person would not part with his money
without demanding an official receipt. No couple or nobody had ever complained
about the absence of the official receipt of the marriage solemnization fee. Further,
the Audit Team found from the Office of the Civil Registrar of Makati City that all
the marriage certificates of the weddings that she solemnized were duly registered
therein.
Respondent Judge also pointed out that the respective Clerks of Court of the
OCC of the MeTC and RTC adopted a wrong and unreliable procedure in
verifying from their records whether there was payment of the marriage
solemnization fees, simply because most of the dates of the wedding indicated in
the marriage certificates were not the same as the dates indicated in the official
receipts. She explained that a couple would often pay the solemnization fee at a
certain date, but the solemnization of the wedding would take place on another
date for one reason or another. Thus, when the Clerks of Court of the Office of the
Clerk of Court checked the dates from the copies of their official receipts on file,
the dates did not reflect payment of the fees, because payments were made on
dates different from the wedding dates.

Re: Failure to reflect the marriages in the Monthly Report of Cases

Respondent Judge related that the Monthly Reports of cases were typed by
her staff, namely: Civil-in-Charge Celedonio Hornachos and Criminal-in-Charge
Mary Jane Rafael. As regards the number of marriages solemnized, they would
inquire from her and she would then give them the figure as stated in her own
logbook. When the Reports were turned over to her for signature, she would first
verify the entries from her own
logbook before affixing her signature. Thus, she was shocked when she learned
that the Courts copy of the Reports contained incorrect figures and was different
from that which she signed.

She asserted that she could not have failed to reflect the correct number of
marriages in the Monthly Reports, because apart from the fact that she was very
meticulous in the accuracy of the entries, she had nothing to gain by not reflecting
the correct figures of solemnized marriages.

She believed that the blank and incorrect figures appearing in the number of
marriages solemnized in the Monthly Reports from January 2004 to March 2007
were the handiwork of Umipig, who most probably tampered the same, because of
a serious grudge against her. She added that it was also Umipig who transferred the
plastic bags of marriage certificates and official receipts from the small room to the
stenographer's room in an attempt to expose the big number of weddings that she
had solemnized, which, through his machinations, were not reflected in the
Monthly Reports.

Re: Compliance with Article 8 of the Family Code, and violation of


Circular No. 9-98[9]

Respondent Judge claimed that she solemnized the marriages inside her
chambers or courtroom, and as proof thereof, she pointed to the entry in the
marriage certificates reflecting the place of solemnization. On few occasions, she
had also solemnized weddings in a house or place designated by both contracting
parties, but not without the required affidavit of request. She explained that she
was able to solemnize many weddings per day, because the rites took only about
10 minutes and involved a maximum of eight couples per batch.

She stressed that neither did she demand nor receive money for
solemnization of marriages, and only the official receipts of the solemnization fees
were given to her.

In regard to Victoria Jamora, she explained in her Amended Comment


dated October 2, 2008 that she failed to reflect in the Monthly Report of Cases the
correct number of marriages solemnized by Judge Arcaya-Chua for the following
reasons:

1. She was not instructed by Judge Arcaya-Chua to be present during


the marriage ceremony;

2. She had no personal knowledge of the actual number of marriages


solemnized by respondent Judge;

3. She merely relied on the entries in the Monthly Report as to the


number of marriages solemnized. The Monthly Report was
prepared by Jane Rafael, who was in charge of criminal
cases. When she asked Rafael why there were only such number
of marriages solemnized from June 2005 to April 2007, Rafael
replied thatwas the advice of respondent Judge. Besides, Judge
Arcaya-Chua signed the reports. As a subordinate designated
by respondent Judge as OIC, she was not in a position to question
her superior, Judge Arcaya-Chua, and signed in good faith the
Monthly Reports in question.

The administrative case was again referred to Associate Justice Remedios A.


Salazar-Fernando of the Court of Appeals for investigation, report and
recommendation.
The Investigation of the Administrative Complaints

On October 9, 2008, Investigator Justice Salazar-Fernando scheduled the


consolidated cases for hearing at 10:00 a.m. on October 23, 2008.

During the hearing on October 23, 2008 of A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2630-RTJ
(the Ocampo Case), complainant Francisco Ocampo appeared with his counsel,
Atty. Jose Aliling IV, while Atty. James Navarrete and Atty. Fe C. Aguila
appeared for OCA. Respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua appeared in her own behalf.
During the said hearing, complainant Ocampo submitted a Supplemental Affidavit
and additional documentary evidence.[10] Respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua also
furnished complainant Ocampo's counsel with a copy of her Affidavit, which
incorporated her Comments in the two cases, the Supplemental Comment, the
Motion to Recall Preventive Suspension and the Motion to Resolve. Complainant
Ocampo testified on direct examination, affirming the truth of the contents of his
Complaint and the authenticity of the annexes attached thereto. Respondent Judge
Arcaya-Chua cross-examined him, but reserved further cross-examination as to the
Supplemental Affidavit. Hearing resumed the following day, October 24, 2008,
and respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua cross-examined complainant Ocampo
specifically on his Supplemental Affidavit. Justice Salazar-Fernando also asked
complainant Ocampo questions.

During the hearing on October 29, 2008, complainant Ocampo submitted his
Offer of Documentary Evidence. Respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua testified on
direct examination, whereby she affirmed the statements in her Affidavit and
Supplemental Affidavit, and identified her exhibits, after which, she was cross-
examined by complainant Ocampo's counsel. Justice Salazar-Fernando also asked
respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua questions. Thereafter, respondent Judge Arcaya-
Chua rested her case and formally offered her documentary evidence, insofar as
OCA IPI No. 07-2630-RTJ was concerned. For the guidance and information of
Justice Salazar-Fernando, the entire original records of SP No. M-6375,
entitled Milan Arceo Ocampo v. Francisco P. Ocampo, was ordered brought to her
office.
On November 3, 2008, OCA started presenting evidence in A.M. No. RTJ-
07-2049 (the Chang Tan/RCBC Case). Judge Zenaida T. Galapate-Laguilles
testified and submitted her Affidavit, and was cross-examined, and was asked
questions on redirect-examination. The scheduled hearing for November 4, 2008
was cancelled due to the unavailability of two (2) witnesses, namely, Judges
Marissa Macaraig-Guillen and Jenny Lind Aldecoa-Delorino.
Hearing on the case resumed on November 10, 2008. OCA presented Judges
Marissa Macaraig-Guillen and Jenny Lind Aldecoa-Delorino, who both submitted
their Affidavits, which were considered as their testimony on direct. They were
questioned by Justice Salazar-Fernando and cross-examined by respondent Judge
Arcaya-Chua. Court records pertaining to SP No. M-6373, entitled Albert
K.S. Chang Tan v. Stephanie N. Estrella Pulliam, were likewise directed to be
brought to the office of Justice Salazar-Fernando for reference and information.

During the hearing on November 11, 2008, the Executive Judge of the
RTC of Makati City, Judge Winlove Dumayas, appeared, and questions were
propounded to him by Justice Salazar-Fernando, respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua
and Atty. James Navarrete from OCA.

In order to expedite the proceedings, respondent Judge was allowed to


present her defense, and marked in evidence several documents,[11] which formed
part of her direct testimony. Since the documents submitted by respondent Judge
were voluminous, Atty. Navarrete was given until November 20, 2008 to conduct
his cross-examination.

On November 25, 2008, Atty. James Navarrete continued with the marking
of additional documents and submitted in evidence his exhibits.[12] Respondent
Judge Arcaya-Chua was cross-examined by Atty. Navarrete. Respondent Judge
was also allowed to ask Atty. Navarrete some questions. Thereafter, respondent
Judge submitted her Formal Offer of Evidence. Atty. Navarrete was given until
November 27, 2008 to file his Opposition, while respondent Judge was given five
days to file her Counter-Manifestation.

On November 26, 2008, Atty. Navarrete filed his Comment, interposing no


objection to respondent's Formal Offer of Exhibits.

On December 2, 2008, respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua filed a Counter-


Manifestation and Motion to Correct Transcript of Stenographic Notes.
On January 16, 2009, Justice Salazar-Fernando received the rollo of A.M.
No. RTJ-08-2141 (Office of the Court Administrator v. Judge Evelyn S. Arcaya-
Chua and Court Stenographer Victoria Jamora, formerly A.M. No. 07-5-263-
RTC, Re: Initial Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted at
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 144, Makati City), which he noted to have been
consolidated with A.M. No. RTJ-07-2049 (Office of the Court Administrator v.
Judge Evelyn S. Arcaya-Chua) per Resolution of the Court en banc dated January
15, 2008.
Since A.M. No. RTJ-08-2141 was not included in the earlier investigation,
Justice Salazar-Fernando set A.M. No. RTJ-08-2141 for hearing on February 8,
2009.

Hearing on A.M. No. RTJ-08-2141 started on February 10, 2009, during


which the counsels for OCA and respondent stenographer Victoria Jamora
appeared. Respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua also attended the hearing.

OCA proposed several stipulations for admission to respondent Judge


Arcaya-Chua. She admitted that she solemnized marriages while she was the Judge
of the MeTC, Branch 63, Makati City and RTC, Branch 144, Makati City. After
going over the certificates of marriage from January 2004 to August 2004, she
admitted that she solemnized those marriages. She also admitted that she
solemnized marriages in her chambers or inside her courtroom, except for two
other marriages that she could not remember, but proper documents were presented
to her. She further admitted that payments of solemnizing fees must be paid before
conducting or solemnizing the marriage, and as part of her regular duties, she
signed the Monthly Reports.

Hearing resumed on February 18, 2009. OCA presented Atty. Fe Corcelles-


Aguila, who testified on the incident that occurred on May 17, 2007, which led to
the inventory of the certificates of marriage, and the audit conducted on May 15-
17, 2007. Atty. Corcelles-Aguila's affidavit[13] formed part of the records of the
case.

In the hearing of March 3, 2009, OCA presented Salvador Indicio, Jr., Arnel
Magsombol, Lucia Ticman and Joel Gregorio as its witnesses. The witnesses were
questioned by OCA, respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua and Justice Salazar-Fernando.
Per request of OCA, notice of hearing was sent to German Averia, for him to
appear on the next scheduled hearing as the last witness of OCA.

In the hearing of March 23, 2009, German Averia testified in his capacity as
Chief Judicial Staff Officer of the Statistical Records Division, Court Management
Office (CMO) of the Supreme Court. He confirmed having issued certifications
and inventory on the monthly report of cases submitted by respondent Judge
Arcaya-Chua to the CMO in compliance with Administrative Circular No. 4-2004.
In the same hearing, the counsel for OCA categorically stated that their evidence in
A.M. No. RTJ-08-2141 was limited only to the alleged irregularities in the
solemnization of marriage as well as the falsification of the monthly reports.[14]

With the continuance of the investigation on April 8, 2009, OCA presented


in evidence the originals of the monthly reports, and the certified true copies of the
monthly reports, whose originals were unavailable. OCA, thereafter, rested its
case. In the same hearing, respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua started presenting her
exhibits.[15] She manifested that her Affidavit and Supplemental Affidavit would
serve as her testimony on direct examination.
On April 21, 2009, respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua presented additional
exhibits.[16] Her Affidavit and Supplemental Affidavit, as well as the Affidavit of
her son, Robert Maurice Chua, formed part of their direct testimonies. Respondent
Judge was, thereafter, cross-examined by OCA.

During the hearing on May 5, 2009, respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua offered


in evidence her Second Supplemental Affidavit. She also presented additional
exhibits.[17]Respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua's daughter, Beau Mairi Chua testified,
with her Affidavit constituting her direct testimony. No cross-examination was
conducted on her by the opposing counsel. Respondent Jamora also testified as
witness for respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua.

At the resumption of the hearing on May 18, 2009, respondent Judge


Arcaya-Chua recalled respondent Jamora to the stand and propounded additional
questions. Respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua rested her case after respondent
Jamora's testimony. Respondent Jamora, thereafter, testified in her own behalf,
with her Amended Comment constituting her direct testimony. No cross-
examination was conducted on her by OCA. Respondent Jamora, thereafter, rested
her case.

With the conformity of the parties, Justice Salazar-Fernando directed them


to file their respective memorandum. Respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua filed her
memorandum on July 21, 2009, while respondent Jamora filed her memorandum
on August 3, 2009. OCA did not file a memorandum; hence, Justice Salazar-
Fernando deemed that it waived the filing of its memorandum. Per this Court's
Resolution dated August 24, 2009, the case was submitted for report and
recommendation to the Supreme Court.

Findings of the Investigating Justice

Findings in A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2630-RTJ (the Ocampo Case)

In regard to the denial of the Motion to Dismiss in the Ocampo


Case, without necessarily ruling on the correctness of respondent Judge Arcaya-
Chuas Order, Justice Salazar-Fernando believed that respondent Judge's
disposition thereof fell within the ambit of discretion vested upon her as a judge.
Not giving credence to the evidence presented by the movants with respect to the
residence of Milan Ocampo was well within her judicial discretion. Assuming the
same was erroneous, no administrative liability attached thereon in the absence of
sufficient evidence that she ruled in such manner, because of a corrupt or dishonest
motive, bad faith, fraud or malice. The evidence presented by complainant
Ocampo as to Milan's residence might constitute proof of her "domicile," but such
evidence was not necessarily irreconcilable with the fact that Milan might be
maintaining residence elsewhere other than Meycauayan, Bulacan, considering her
estranged relationship with complainant Ocampo.

As regards the alleged suddenness of the scheduled TPO hearing, Justice


Salazar-Fernando found respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua's explanation acceptable.
The order setting the case for hearing on December 13, 2006 was issued
on December 8, 2006. Thus, there was an interim of at least five days from the
issuance of the order and the date of the scheduled hearing. It did not appear that
respondent Judge had any hand in the belated service of the notice to the
complainant. Justice Salazar-Fernando held that respondent Judge cannot be
faulted as to the alleged suddenness of the said hearing, because a prayer for TPO
requires to be acted upon with dispatch. In that respect, no wrong-doing, fraud,
bad faith, malice or even arbitrariness can be attributed to respondent Judge.

According to the Investigating Justice, the alleged precipitate issuance of the


TPO had no leg to stand on. Respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua correctly stated that
the issuance of the TPO can be made upon the filing of the application after ex
parte determination by the judge that the same be issued. This is in accordance
with Sec. 15 of R.A. No. 9262, thus:

SEC. 15. Temporary Protection Orders. Temporary Protection


Orders (TPOs) refer to the protection order issued by the court on the
date of filing of the application after ex parte determination that such
order should be issued. A court may grant in a TPO any, some or all of
the reliefs mentioned in this Act and shall be effective for thirty (30)
days. The court shall schedule a hearing on the issuance of a PPO prior
to or on the date of the expiration of the TPO. The court shall order
the immediate personal service of the TPO on the respondent by the
court sheriff who may obtain the assistance of law enforcement
agents for the service. The TPO shall include notice of the date of the
hearing on the merits of the issuance of a PPO.[18]

Hence, the issuance of the TPO by respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua even before
complainant Ocampo could file his answer was neither irregular nor improper.

Justice Salazar-Fernando was convinced by the reasons why respondent


Judge issued the TPO. A preliminary determination of the facts of the case justified
the issuance of the TPO as it appeared that the subject minors therein were the
illegitimate children of the petitioner, Milan Ocampo, having been conceived
through artificial insemination without the required written authorization or
ratification of the husband, complainant Francisco Ocampo. The pertinent
provision of the Family Code states:

ART. 164. Children conceived or born during the marriage of the parents
are legitimate.

Children conceived as a result of artificial insemination of the wife with


the sperm of the husband or that of a donor or both are likewise legitimate
children of the husband and his wife, provided that both of them authorized or
ratified such insemination in a written instrument executed and signed by them
before the birth of the child. The instrument shall be recorded in the civil registry
together with the birth certificate of the child.

Moreover, Milan Ocampo appended evidence of complainant Ocampo's


alleged perversity and violent behavior. A sworn affidavit[19] of Emelita S.
Valentino, narrating alleged perverse behavior of complainant Ocampo, as well
as the certification[20] from the Philippine National Police of Meycauayan,
stating acts of violence committed by complainant Ocampo on Milan, were
appended to the Petition. The totality of the evidence thus presented, while not
exactly conclusive, justified a prima facie determination of the necessity of a
TPO.

While Justice Salazar-Fernando found complainant Ocampo's


objections to the matter of support apt and plausible, the same could be merely
considered as an error of judgment or an abuse of discretion, but respondent
Judge Arcaya-Chua cannot be held administratively liable thereon. Considering
that the matter of support therein was merely provisional, respondent Judge
could not be faulted for readily granting the prayer for support without further
evaluating evidence with respect thereto. Justice Salazar-Fernando stated that
respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua's error in that respect was not gross, the same
having been brought about by an innocuous reliance on the Rule on Provisional
Orders, A.M. No. 02-11-12-SC. Under the said rule, provisional orders for
protection and support may be issued without hearing. However, the said rule
specifically applies to petitions for declaration of nullity of marriage,
annulment of marriage or legal separation. In this case, the matter of support
was among the principal reliefs sought for in the petition for custody.

Justice Salazar-Fernando found that respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua's


alleged over-zealousness in causing the immediate implementation of the TPO
was without solid basis. A TPO, much like a TRO in civil cases, is required to be
served immediately, precisely to serve its purpose as a protective relief.
Respondent Judge issued the TPO on April 3, 2007, a Holy Tuesday, right after
the hearing on complainant Ocampo's motion for reconsideration of the denial of
his motion to dismiss. She clarified that the date of the hearing on the motion for
reconsideration on April 3, 2007 was set by complainant Ocampo's counsel
himself. The following day, April 4, 2007, a Holy Wednesday, she directed the
implementation of the TPO. Hence, Justice Salazar-Fernando found nothing
improper or wayward in the dispositions made by respondent Judge in the
case. There was no evidence that respondent Judge purposely sought the issuance
of the TPO during the Holy Week, as it was complainant Ocampo's counsel
himself who, wittingly or unwittingly, chose the hearing date. Considering the
urgency and immediacy of a TPO, it was not improper or illegal that respondent
Judge caused its immediate implementation.

Justice Salazar-Fernando believed that respondent Judge could not have


been privy to the brazen manner in which the TPO was served by the designated
sheriff. In the first place, it was only the designated sheriff, Sheriff Tangangco,
who was administratively charged by complainant Ocampo for the allegedly
offensive manner the TPO was served. As correctly argued by respondent Judge,
such was the personal accountability of Sheriff Tangangco.

Further, Justice Salazar-Fernando found complainant Ocampo's allegation


of bribery against respondent Judge to be hearsay. During the hearing conducted
by Justice Salazar-Fernando on October 24, 2007, complainant Ocampo
confirmed that he had no personal knowledge of the alleged bribery of respondent
Judge Arcaya-Chua.

Justice Salazar-Fernando recommended that A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2630-


RTJ (the Ocampo Case) should be dismissed. She stated that as a matter of policy,
in the absence of fraud, dishonesty or corruption, the acts of a judge in his judicial
capacity are not subject to disciplinary action even though such acts are
erroneous.[21] She cited Espaol v. Mupas,[22] which held thus:

x x x While the Court will never tolerate or condone any conduct, act or
omission that would violate the norm of public accountability or
diminish the people's faith in the judiciary, nonetheless, we have
repeatedly stated that the quantum of proof necessary for a finding of
guilt in administrative cases is substantial evidence or such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. In the absence of contrary evidence, what will prevail is the
presumption that the respondent has regularly performed his or her
official duties. In administrative proceedings, complainants have the
burden of proving by substantial evidence the allegations in their
complaints. Thus, when the complainant relies mainly on
secondhand information to prove the charges against the
respondent, the complaint is reduced into a bare indictment or mere
speculation. The Court cannot give credence to charges based on mere
credence or speculation. As we held in a recent case:
Any administrative complaint leveled against a judge must
always be examined with a discriminating eye, for its
consequential effects are by their nature highly penal, such that
the respondent judge stands to face the sanction of dismissal or
disbarment. Mere imputation of judicial misconduct in the
absence of sufficient proof to sustain the same will never be
countenanced. If a judge should be disciplined for misconduct,
the evidence against him should be competent.[23]

Findings in A.M. No. RTJ-07-2049 ( the Chang Tan/RCBC Case)

Justice Salazar-Fernando stated that in the Chang Tan Case, the OCA
primarily asserted that the TPO issued by respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua could not
be legally justified under R.A. No. 9262, because the said law applies only if the
applicant for TPO is a woman.
The Investigating Justice partly agreed with the OCA on that score. R.A.
No. 9262 is known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of
2004. It isspecifically applicable to "women and their children," not to men. Thus,
while the TPO may be justified with respect to the protection accorded the minor,
the same is not legally tenable with respect to the petitioner, Albert Chang Tan.
Under R.A. No. 9262, a TPO cannot be issued in favor of a man against his
wife. Certainly, such a TPO would be absurd. Hence, Justice Salazar-Fernando
found respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua's error in this regard to be gross ignorance of
the law. She cited the Dissenting Opinion of Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr.
in Officers and Members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Baguio-Benguet
Chapter v. Pamintuan,[24] which stated, thus:

When the inefficiency springs from a failure to consider so basic


and elementary a rule, a law or a principle in the discharge of his duties,
a judge is either too incompetent and undeserving of the position and the
title he holds or is too vicious that the oversight or omission was
deliberately done in bad faith and in grave abuse of judicial authority
(De Guzman, Jr. v. Sison, A.M. No. RTJ-01-1629, March 26, 2001).
When the law is sufficiently basic, a judge owes it to his office to simply
apply it; anything less than that would be constitutive of gross ignorance
of the law (Rodriguez v. Bonifacio, A.M. No. RTJ-99-1510, November
6, 2000).

Justice Salazar-Fernando averred that as a family court judge, respondent


Judge Arcaya-Chua should be the last person to err in the application of R.A. No.
9262, and, in this case, issue a TPO applied for a man, purportedly to protect the
latter against his wife. Such is unthinkable under R.A. No. 9262. A careful
evaluation of the records in the Chang Tan Case showed that there was not even
any allegation of violence committed by Stephanie Pulliam against her husband,
Chang Tan. Thus, Justice Salazar-Fernando found that the TPO against Stephanie,
insofar as it directed the latter to stay away from the home and office of petitioner,
to cease and desist from harassing, intimidating or threatening petitioner and to
refrain from acts of commission or omission that create an unreasonable risk to the
health, safety or welfare of petitioner, was anomalous.

Be that as it may, with respect to the issue of custody, Justice Salazar-


Fernando found respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua's reasons for granting custody
over subject minor to Albert Chang Tan to be legally tenable. While not exactly
conclusive, the evidence relied upon by respondent Judge in granting custody in
favor of Chang Tan was substantial enough to warrant a prima facie determination
that a TPO in favor of the minor was necessary and would serve her paramount
interest. Justice Salazar-Fernando found nothing improper in respondent Judge's
reliance on the psychological evaluation report of Dr. Sonia Rodriguez and the
statements of yaya Josie Leynes and the subject minor herself, Rafi Pulliam, which
all confirmed that Stephanie has not been a good influence to her daughter,
Rafi. As far as the latter's paramount interest was concerned, Stephanie was not the
ideal person to whom custody should be awarded. On this premise, respondent
Judge Arcaya-Chua's award of temporary custody to the father could be justified.
However, Justice Salazar-Fernando stated that she does not necessarily affirm the
correctness of the custody award to the father, Chang Tan, since respondent Judge
Arcaya-Chua's Order dated May 7, 2007 was annulled and set aside by the Twelfth
Division of the Court of Appeals in a Decision dated October 31, 2007.[25]
In regard to the alleged bribery and unusual interest which respondent Judge
Arcaya-Chua allegedly displayed in the said case, Justice Salazar-Fernando
found no substantial evidence to support such allegations. The OCA's
Memorandum itself admitted that there was no proof that respondent
Judge received money from Chang Tan.

Moreover, not one of the witnesses of OCA confirmed having personally


witnessed the alleged heated argument between Chang Tan and the OIC of the
RTC of Makati City, Branch 144, except for their secondhand accounts that
they heard that such incident actually transpired. Justice Salazar-Fernando found
it speculative to attribute the commission of bribery or wrongdoing to respondent
Judge Arcaya-Chua solely on such account. The Investigating Justice stated that
respondent Judge appeared to have no personal or actual participation in that
incident, because the "heated argument" was allegedly between Chang Tan and the
OIC, Victoria Jamora.

As regards respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua's issuance of a writ of


preliminary attachment in the RCBC Case, Justice Salazar-Fernando found no
evidence against respondent of any irregularity or undue interest in the
case. Respondent convincingly elaborated the circumstances surrounding her
issuance of the writ of preliminary attachment, particularly the manner in which
she studied and evaluated the application for the writ. Justice Salazar-Fernando
was convinced that while the order granting the writ was indeed speedily
issued the ex parte hearing on the application having been held on a Friday,
followed immediately by the issuance of the writ on the succeeding business day, a
Monday there was really nothing impossible or irregular in such feat. Per
respondents account, she had been unofficially reporting for work on Saturdays
during that time and she did not have to evaluate the totality of the evidence for the
purpose of ruling on the propriety of issuing the writ. Further, considering
respondent's habit of immediately disposing pending motions before her court,
Justice Salazar-Fernando found no sufficient basis to attach a sinister significance
to the speedy issuance of the writ of preliminary attachment. The Investigating
Justice also found respondent Judge's reasons for issuing the writ of preliminary
attachment to be apt.
Justice Salazar-Fernando held that in the absence of evidence that she was
motivated by any dishonest or corrupt motive in issuing the writ, respondent Judge
Arcaya-Chua is entitled to the presumption that she regularly performed her
duties. She cited, thus:
In administrative proceedings, the complainant bears the onus of
establishing, by substantial evidence, the averments of his
complaint. Notatu dignum is the presumption of regularity in the
performance of a judge's functions, hence bias, prejudice and even undue
interest cannot be presumed, specially weighed against a judge's sacred
allegation under oath of office to administer justice without respect to
any person and do equal right to the poor and to the rich. In a long line of
cases decided by this Court, it was held that bare allegations of bias are
not enough in the absence of clear and convincing evidence to overcome
the presumption that the judge will undertake his noble role to dispense
justice according to law and evidence and without fear or favor.
In Sinnott v. Barte, it was further held, mere suspicion that a judge is
partial is not enough. There should be clear and convincing evidence to
prove the charge of bias and partiality. Extrinsic evidence is required to
establish bias, bad faith, malice or corrupt purpose, in addition to the
palpable error that may be inferred from the decision or order
itself. Although the decision may seem so erroneous as to raise doubts
concerning a judge's integrity, absent extrinsic evidence, the decision
itself would be insufficient to establish a case against the judge.[26]

Findings in the Judicial Audit Case (Re: Marriage Certificates and Monthly
Reports)

Justice Salazar-Fernando found that there is substantial evidence of an


anomaly in respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua's solemnization of marriages in her
court and failure to reflect the correct number of marriages in her Monthly
Reports.

The Investigating Justice stated that at once, the timing of the disposal of the
marriage certificates, which were said to have been contained in four (4) plastic
bags, is highly suspect, because it occurred during the time the judicial audit was
being conducted. Respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua admitted the fact that she
ordered Salvador Indicio, Jr., her utility worker, to dispose of some garbage
contained in blue plastic bags. However, as regards the timing of disposal, she
explained that she ordered Indicio to dispose of her garbage on the second week of
May, days before the judicial audit.[27] Such fact was confirmed by Indicio in his
testimony.[28] He testified that he was ordered by respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua to
dispose of the garbage on May 9, 2007. Indicio stated that the garbage was due for
disposal on May 14, 2007, but since it was election day, the disposal of the garbage
was postponed until May 17, 2007, at which time, the disposal of the plastic bags
caught the attention of the security detail of the Supreme Court.

The Investigating Justice stated that based on the foregoing account, if the
order to dispose of the garbage was indeed made on May 9, 2007, it is perplexing
why such a simple task of throwing away a garbage of barely four plastic bags,
which would take only a couple of minutes to accomplish, could tarry for several
days. Why no attempt to dispose of the supposed garbage was made on May 9, 10,
and 11 (May 12 & 13 were Saturday and Sunday, respectively, while May 14 was
Election Day, and May 15 to 17 was the period of judicial audit) was not
sufficiently explained. The logical implication is that the order to dispose could not
have been made on May 9, 2007, but more likely later when the judicial audit was
already being conducted. Such conclusion jibes with the account of Atty. Fe
Corcelles-Aguila, one of the members of the judicial audit team, that upon being
immediately confronted why he chose that particular day to dispose of the
supposed garbage despite the ongoing audit, Indicio "could not offer any
explanation."[29]Indicio could not remember the exact date when the order to
dispose of the garbage was made by respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua. He testified,
thus:

CROSS-EXAMINATION

JUDGE CHUA:

You mentioned in your Affidavit and in your testimony this morning that you
executed an Affidavit on May 17 and the throwing away of the garbage was
also done at 8:00 oclock in the morning of May 17 upon my instruction. When
did I give my instruction to you to throw away the garbage?

MR. INDICIO:

You told me before the audit to throw all your trash.


JUSTICE FERNANDO:

Did you know when that particular day was?

MR. INDICIO:

That was election day, Your Honor.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:

Election day of May, 2007?

MR. INDICIO:

Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:

Was that the exact date when Judge Chua told you to throw the garbage?

MR. INDICIO:

Yes, Your Honor.

JUDGE CHUA:

May I draw your attention to paragraph 2 of your Affidavit. This was


subscribed to on May 17. So the last week that you mentioned here was a
week before May 17. You mentioned here that last week, I was instructed by
the Presiding Judge to dispose of the garbage which were stocked in her
branch. Do you confirm the statement in paragraph 2 of your Affidavit?

MR. INDICIO:

Judge Chua told me to throw the garbage because it was election day.

JUDGE CHUA:

I am sorry, Your Honor, but I do not get the fact straight.


May I draw your attention now to paragraph 5 of your Affidavit. You said
here that the said garbage was scheduled to be disposed last May 14,
2007. However, since it was election day, same was not collected.

MR. INDICIO:
Yes, maam, it was scheduled on May 14, but the janitor was busy so it was
only on May 17 that he had an opportunity to throw it.

JUDGE CHUA:

To clarify the matter, Mr. Indicio, when did I give the instruction to you to
throw away the garbage?

MR. INDICIO:

I was told before the audit.

JUDGE CHUA:
The audit was conducted on May 15 up to May 17. Based on paragraph 2 of
your Affidavit, I gave the instruction to you a week before May 17, so I gave
the instruction to you probably on May 10, is that what you are saying?

MR. INDICIO:

I do not remember the exact date but I was instructed by Judge Chua.

xxxx

JUSTICE FERNANDO:

When you told us that before the audit was conducted, Judge Chua already
instructed you to throw those garbage bags placed inside the stenographers
room, how many days after that instruction was given to you did you comply
with her instruction?

MR. INDICIO:

Eight (8) days, Your Honor.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:

So if you instructed Beldad to throw those garbage bags on May 17 minus 8


that would be May 9, is that correct?

MR. INDICIO:

Yes, your Honor.[30]

According to Justice Salazar-Fernando, apart from the timing of the


disposal, the manner of disposing the plastic bags of marriage certificates was also
open to suspicion. Although there were four plastic bags ready for disposal, which
according to Indicio himself were really not too heavy, [31] only one was taken out
by the janitor to be disposed, leaving three other plastic bags inside the courtroom.
Taking out the plastic bags one by one could have been purposely sought to
surreptitiously remove the said bags from the courtroom, and avoid detection by
the security personnel detailed by the judicial audit team.

Justice Salazar-Fernando noted that despite repeated references to the


supposed garbage, which were allegedly contained in similar plastic bags
containing the marriage certificates, the whereabouts of the said plastic bags of
garbage were never accounted for. If what were mistakenly attempted to be
disposed of by Indicio were the plastic bags containing the marriage
certificates, the plastic bags containing the garbage could have been found
elsewhere in the courtroom. However, as things turned out, there were really no
plastic bags of garbage, but only more plastic bags of marriage certificates.
Respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua's account of the plastic bags of garbage was
unsubstantiated.

The Investigating Justice did not give credence to respondent Judges theory
as to why the plastic bags of marriage certificates were found in
the stenographer's room, causing Indicio to mistake it for the garbage which she
supposedly ordered him to dispose of. Respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua theorized
that a certain Noel Umipig, a casual employee in her staff, who harbored a deep-
seated grudge against her for not being able to borrow money from her, could
have been responsible in transferring the plastic bags of marriage certificates from
the small room in her chambers to the stenographer's room before her courtroom
was padlocked. According to her, Umipig could have heard of the impending
administrative investigation on her. Hence, to expose the big number of weddings
she had been solemnizing, which, purportedly, through Umipig' s machinations
had not been reflected in her monthly reports, Umipig could have taken out
the plastic bags of marriage certificates from the small room in her chambers and
transferred them to the stenographer's room, so that once the plastic bags were
taken out to the garbage can along the corridor, the documents would be
discovered by the audit team.
Justice Salazar-Fernando found respondent Judges theory difficult to
swallow. According to her, it was fantastic that respondent Judge attached too
much cunning to Umipig for the latter to have deviously perpetrated all the acts
being attributed to him. If the intention was only to expose the big number of
weddings, it is hard to understand why Umipig would have to go the difficult way
of trespassing on her chambers when all he would have to do was spread rumors
about the weddings, as he had been wont to do, per respondent Judge Arcaya-
Chua's own account.

In regard to the non-payment of the marriage solemnization fees, the


certifications[32] issued by the Clerks of Court of the MeTC and RTC of Makati
City attest to the fact that out of the 1,975 marriages solemnized by respondent
Judge Arcaya-Chua, only 166 marriages were paid the corresponding
solemnization fees. Justice Salazar-Fernando found no reason to doubt the
reliability or integrity of the said certifications, the contents of which were
confirmed by Arnel Magsombol and Lucila Ticman, the same persons who
personally verified from their records whether or not the solemnization fees of the
marriages solemnized by respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua were paid.

Respondent Judge assailed the reliability of the procedure undertaken by


Magsombol and Ticman in verifying the payment of solemnization fees, positing
that they could have merely relied on the dates of the wedding as stated in the
marriage certificates, which were often not the same dates stated in the receipts.
She contended that most parties paid their solemnization fee on a date different
from their wedding; hence, the dates of the receipts would not be the same date as
that of the wedding. Thus, respondent Judgepostulated that when Magsombol and
Ticman verified payment of the solemnization fees based on the dates of the
wedding as stated in the marriage certificates, they would find no receipt to show
payment of the solemnization fees, because payment was made on some other
date.

Justice Salazar-Fernando did not believe the foregoing postulation of


respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua in the light of the categorical declarations of
Magsombol and Ticman that they did not merely based their verification on the
dates of the wedding, but, specifically, they verified the payment of solemnization
fees based on the names of the contracting parties to the wedding. Pertinent
portions of the testimonies of Magsombol and Ticman state as follows:

DIRECT EXAMINATION

xxxx

ATTY. BUGTAS:
So how did you verify these marriages solemnized by respondent
Judge Arcaya-Chua?

MR. MAGSOMBOL;
I checked the names that were handed to me one by one.

ATTY. BUGTAS:
Did you check all the records?

MR. MAGSOMBOL:
Yes, I based on the daily cash collection records beginning the first
day of January 2004 up to the last day of office of December 2005.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
Are your daily cash collection records complete from January 2004 to
December 2005?

MR. MAGSOMBOL:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
How about the other basis which you said, receipts?

MR. MAGSOMBOL:
In our daily collection report, we indicate the OR number.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
Did you also check those OR numbers and the receipts?
MR. MAGSOMBOL:
Yes, I matched the daily collection to the receipts which I brought
with me, Your Honor.

xxxx

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
So in the years 2004 and 2005, marriages solemnized by the MeTC
Judge were supposed to be recorded in your daily cash collection
book?

MR. MAGSOMBOL:
Yes, Your Honor, the ones that are being paid.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
So if they are not paid, they do not appear in your book?

MR. MAGSOMBOL:
Yes, we dont know if the marriage happened or not.

xxxx

(Direct Examination of Lucila D. Ticman)

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
Did you verify from your records if the solemnization fees of the
marriages that were listed in the document were paid?

MS. TICMAN:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
What was the result of your verification?

MS. TICMAN:
Only 20 parties paid the solemnization fees.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
Only 20? Twenty out of?
ATTY. BUGTAS:
More than a thousand, Your Honor. 1,300 plus.

xxxx

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
What was the basis of your findings?

MS. TICMAN:
My basis Your Honor is the one coming from the Supreme Court,
and the names supplied us by the Supreme Court were verified by us
if they were paid or not.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
What documents did you check to determine whether the fees were
paid or not?

MS. TICMAN:
The Certificates of Marriage.

xxxx

ATTY. BUGTAS:
What documents or records did you examine in order to determine
the marriages that paid the corresponding fees?

MS. TICMAN:
The logbook of the Accounting Section and official receipts.

xxxx

ATTY. BUGTAS:
Based on your records or receipt that you have, you can inform the
inquiring party whether that person or party paid the corresponding
fees or not?

MS. TICMAN:
Yes, sir.

ATTY. BUGTAS:
In the 3rd paragraph of your Affidavit, based on your records, you
enumerated just 20 marriages as appearing to have paid the
corresponding fees.

MS. TICMAN:
Yes, sir.

ATTY. BUGTAS:
But based on the records available, the Supreme Court furnished you
with a list numbering around 1,344 names of parties for verification
but you came out with an Affidavit enumerating only those parties
that paid the corresponding fees. Is there a possibility that the
contracting parties paid the fees, but your records would not reflect
their names?

MS. TICMAN:
No, sir.

ATTY. BUGTAS:
So only those that paid will appear in your records.

MS. TICMAN:
Yes, sir.

ATTY. BUGTAS:
If a party did not pay, his or her name will not appear in your records?

MS. TICMAN:
Yes, sir.
xxxx

ATTY. BUGTAS:
In the 3rd paragraph of your Affidavit, you stated that after a thorough
examination of the records of this office (referring to your office) has
been ascertained that only 20 marriages have been paid in the OCC
RTC Makati city, and you enumerated the 20 marriages that paid the
corresponding fees based on your records.

When you say you thoroughly examined, can you tell us whether the
examination was thorough enough so that your Affidavit is accurate
as to its contents?
MS. TICMAN:
We examined our logbook one by one, the names of the parties given
by the Supreme Court.[33]

Justice Salazar-Fernando was fully convinced by the findings of Magsombol


and Ticman that the solemnization fees of a substantial number of marriages
solemnized by respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua were unpaid.

As regards respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua's failure to reflect the marriages


in her monthly reports, Justice Salazar-Fernando found respondent Judges defense
of forgery, nay tampering, to be unsubstantiated. She carefully perused respondent
Judges signatures in the monthly reports and compared the same to her signatures
in the pleadings, which she submitted during the investigation, as well as in the
orders and decisions contained in the records, and found no substantial
discrepancies therein or any indication that the same had been forged. According
to Justice Salazar-Fernando, while all her signatures did not exactly appear to be
100 percent similar, there was no reason to suppose that her signatures in the
monthly reports and other signatures extant in the records were not signed by one
and the same person. Moreover, Justice Salazar-Fernando failed to see any tell-tale
signs of tampering, and this could be the reason why respondent Judge herself
withdrew such defense.
Justice Salazar-Fernando disbelieved the argument of respondent Judge
Arcaya-Chua that the anomaly attributed to her was the work of Umipig. The
Investigating Justicefound it incredible that since January 2004 up to April 2007 or
for a period of more than three years, Umipig had been silently working on his
sinister scheme, patiently and clandestinely forging respondent Judge's signatures
in her monthly reports as vengeance for not lending him money. Justice Salazar-
Fernando found it difficult to imagine how Umipig could have harbored such a
deep-seated grudge against respondent Judge just because the latter refused to loan
him money for his enrolment in law school, which purportedly was the reason why
Umipig failed to become a lawyer.

Respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua presented text messages allegedly coming


from Umipig to show the latter's extreme hatred of her. The Investigating Justice
stated that apart from the fact that it could not be established that it was indeed
Umipig who sent the text messages, the tenor of the text messages did not show
that Umipig was the author of all the anomalies relating to the marriage certificates
and monthly reports. Respondent Judge quoted Umipig saying, "Hindi bale, may
ebidensya naman ako laban sa inyo," which, according to her, could only betray
the fact that Umipig had indeed been up to something. According to Justice
Salazar-Fernando, Umipigs statement could only confirm the existence of the
anomalies in respondent Judges court, rather than attribute authorship to Umipig
for the anomalies pertaining to the marriage certificates and monthly reports.

Further, Justice Salazar-Fernando found respondent Judge Arcaya-


Chuas procedure of signing the monthly reports ahead of her OIC to be irregular,
since it is contrary to prevailing procedure and protocol. Respondent Judge
Arcaya-Chua admitted that she signed the monthly reports first before her OIC,
Ms. Mabalot, during her stint in the MeTC, or Ms. Jamora, in the RTC.
Respondent Judge testified, thus:

xxxx

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
Could you repeat the statement?

JUDGE CHUA:
I signed the monthly reports at 4:00 oclock in the afternoon, Your Honor, and
then the following morning at around 8:00 o clock, I would see the reports on top
of the table of Ornachos or Rafael still unsigned by Mabalot or Jamora. My focus
was on the typewritten name of Mabalot or Jamora without their signatures.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
And you expect the reports to be signed on the same afternoon when you
signed?

JUDGE CHUA:
Not necessarily, Your Honor, but my point is I showed to Ornachos or Rafael
that I have signed the monthly reports.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
Do you have to sign first before the clerk of court?

JUDGE CHUA:
With due respect to Mrs. Jamora, Your Honor, because the branch clerk of
court of MeTC Branch 63 was not a lawyer because she was assigned on detail to
the OCC a few months ago and Mrs. Jamora, likewise, is not a lawyer so I would
rather do the checking myself, sign and then require them to affix their signatures.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
Contrary to the usual procedure that the Judge would sign last?

JUDGE CHUA:
Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
In your case, you sign first before the OIC?

JUDGE CHUA:
Yes, Your Honor.[34]

Justice Salazar-Fernando disbelieved respondent Judges justification for


signing first before her OIC, reasoning that it does not take a lawyer to know what
to indicate in the monthly reports, let alone the mechanical task of indicating how
many cases were disposed or how many marriages were solemnized in a month.

As regards respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua's compliance with Article 8 of


the Family Code concerning the place of solemnization of the marriage,
the Investigating Justice found no evidence that would show that she disregarded
the strictures of the said provision. There is also no concrete evidence showing that
respondent Judge demanded and/or received money from the contracting parties
for solemnizing the marriage. However, it can be inferred that respondent Judge
financially benefited from solemnizing the numerous marriages by the fact that
these were not correctly reflected in the monthly reports and insufficient
solemnizing fees were paid to the court.

Anent respondent Judge Arcaya-Chuas liability in this case, Justice Salazar-


Fernando stated:
x x x [T]aken as a whole, the undersigned Investigator respectfully
submits that there is convincing and substantial evidence to support a
finding that anomalies were committed in respondent Judge Arcaya-
Chua's court with respect to the solemnization of marriages. The
circumstances magnificently fit together: plastic bags containing about
1,975 marriage certificates were surreptitiously being spirited out of
respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua's court during the occasion of the judicial
audit; when confronted, the person seen disposing the plastic bags stated
that he was acting upon the order of respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua;
when verified, the solemnization fees of the marriages covered by the
said marriage certificates were found to have not been paid; despite
openly admitting having solemnized all the weddings covered by the
said marriage certificates, the monthly reports of respondent Judge
Arcaya-Chua reflected only a very minimal number of weddings
solemnized. Taken together, the circumstances lead to no other
conclusion that irregularities were obviously perpetrated by respondent
Judge Arcaya-Chua in solemnizing marriages in her court.

In regard to respondent Court Stenographer Jamora's culpability, Justice


Salazar-Fernando found sufficient reasons to hold her accountable for her
signatures in the monthly reports. She cannot feign ignorance as to the correct
number of weddings solemnized by respondent Judge. Jamoras justification that
she could not have questioned respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua even if there were
erroneous entries in the monthly reports is in itself pregnant with admission that
something anomalous could have indeed been taking place. She testified, thus:

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
So you affixed your signature without knowing whether the report is
accurate or not?

MS. JAMORA:
Your Honor, to answer honestly, I was not in the position to question
my superior Judge Chua.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
So, by force of circumstances, you just affixed your signature without
any question asked, whether they are correct, inaccurate, incomplete,
you just affixed your signature. Is that your job as OIC?

ATTY. VILLANUEVA:
Your Honor, I think she stated her position already in her Comment.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
That is why I am asking her for confirmation.

MS. JAMORA:
Yes, Your Honor.

ATTY. VILLANUEVA:
More or less, that is the substance of her Comment, Your Honor.

JUSTICE FERNANDO:
So without knowing anything about the figures, you just affixed your
signature because you saw already the signature of Rafael and the
signature of Judge Chua?

MS. JAMORA:
Yes, Your Honor.[35]

Justice Salazar-Fernando found unacceptable respondent Jamora's pretended


ignorance of the incorrectness of the monthly reports she had been signing, let
alone the figures relating to the number of marriages solemnized by respondent
Judge. He stressed that it does not take a lawyer to count or at least approximate
the number of weddings that respondent Judge had been solemnizing in her court,
considering the unusually big number of weddings she had solemnized. Knowing
the figures stated in the monthly reports to be incorrect, Jamora condoned the
wrongdoing, if she was actually not a willing participant, by affixing her signatures
therein.
Justice Salazar-Fernando held that the reprehensible act or omission of
respondent Jamora constitutes dishonesty amounting to grave misconduct.
Moreover, she stated that during the investigation, it was revealed that although
Jamora was an OIC Clerk of Court, she had no knowledge of her duties and
responsibilities, and had neither control over the employees under her nor did what
was expected of her.

Justice Salazar-Fernando stated that respondent Jamora's plea for


compassion and understanding, citing the fact that she was not a lawyer and that
the position of OIC Clerk of Court was merely thrust upon her by respondent
Judge Arcaya-Chua, which she reluctantly accepted, was hollow, because her
transgression did not have any connection with her status as a non-lawyer or being
a reluctant OIC. Her insistence upon her ignorance or lack of knowledge of the
incorrectness of the figures stated in the monthly reports, specifically on the
number of marriages solemnized, aggravates her offense as it makes a mockery of
her oath.

The Ruling of the Court

The Court agrees with the findings of Investigating Justice Salazar-


Fernando.

It is settled that in administrative proceedings, the quantum of proof required


to establish malfeasance is not proof beyond reasonable doubt, but substantial
evidence, i.e., that amount of relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.[36]

In A.M. No. RTJ-08-2141, there is substantial evidence that respondent


Judge Arcaya-Chua did not report in her Monthly Reports[37] the actual number of
marriages she solemnized during her stint in the MeTC, Makati City, Branch 63
and in the RTC, Makati City, Branch 144, and that the solemnization fees that were
paid did not correspond to the number of marriages that were solemnized by her.
The monthly reports of cases on record showed that Judge Arcaya-
Chua reported zero or a lesser number of marriages solemnized by her compared
with the marriage certificates that were seized from her office. Just to mention a
portion of the evidence submitted against her: In April 2004, she reported[38] that
she did not solemnized any marriage, but there were 29 marriage certificates issued
on the said month contained in the plastic bags that were taken from her
office.[39] In May 2004, she reported[40] that she did not solemnize any marriage,
but 36 marriage certificates issued on the said month were found in the
same plastic bags.[41] In June 2004, she likewise reported[42] that she did not
solemnize any marriage, but 45 marriage certificates issued on the said month were
contained in the plastic bags.[43] From November 2005 to March 2007, her Monthly
Reports[44] indicated that she did not solemnize any marriage, but 1,068 marriage
certificates issued by her during the said period are in the custody of the Court.[45]

Atty. Neptali D. Abasta, Clerk of Court V, OCC, MeTC, Makati City, in his
Certification[46] dated June 8, 2007, stated that only 146 of the marriages
solemnized by Judge Arcaya-Chua from January 2004 to June 13, 2005 paid the
corresponding marriage fee. Moreover, Atty. Engracio M. Escasinas, Jr., Clerk of
Court VII, OCC, RTC, Makati City, declared in his Certification[47] dated June 8,
2007 that from the list furnished by this Court of marriages solemnized by Judge
Arcaya-Chua, only 20 marriages were paid to the said office per RTC official
receipts covering the period from June 14, 2005 to April 2007. Hence, out of the
1,975 marriage certificates discovered in Branch 144, only a total of 166 marriages
were paid.
In the light of the substantial evidence against her, she cannot shift the blame
to Noel Umipig absent any proof of weight that he forged her signature in the
Monthly Reports.

In regard to respondent Victoria Jamora, her signature on the Monthly


Reports represented that she attested to the correctness thereof; hence, it is
presumed that she verified or should have verified the facts stated therein. The
Monthly Reports specifically state that the signatories thereto, including Victoria
Jamora, declare under oath that the information in this Monthly Report is true and
correct to the best of our knowledge, pursuant to the provisions of existing
rules/administrative circulars.

Respondent Jamora admitted that she was designated as OIC of Branch 144
from July 2005 to April 2007.[48] It is incredible that Victoria Jamora, as OIC, was
unaware ofthe big number of weddings solemnized by respondent Judge from
November 5 to March 2007, which totaled 1,068 marriages per the confiscated
marriage certificates, but she attested in the Monthly Reports for the said period
that no marriage was ever solemnized. Thus, the Investigating Justice correctly
stated that she knew that the figures stated in the Monthly Reports were incorrect,
but she condoned the wrongdoing by affixing her signature therein, if she was not
actually a willing participant.

The Court sustains the findings of Justice Salvador-Fernando in A.M. No.


RTJ-08-2141 that respondents Judge Arcaya-Chua and Victoria Jamora are guilty
of gross misconduct.
In A.M. No. RTJ-07-2049 (the Chang Tan/RCBC Case), the Court upholds
the finding of Justice Salvador-Fernando that respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua is
guilty of gross ignorance of the law for issuing a TPO in favor of petitioner Albert
Chang Tan in SP Case No. M-6373, since a TPO cannot be issued in favor of a
man against his wife underR.A. No. 9292, known as the AntiViolence Against
Women and Their Children Act of 2004. Indeed, as a family court judge, Judge
Arcaya-Chua is expected to know the correct implementation of R.A. No. 9292.

In A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2630-RTJ (the Ocampo Case), the Court sustains
the recommendation of Justice Salvador-Fernando that the case be dismissed in the
absence of substantial evidence that respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua is liable for the
charge of harassment, grave abuse of authority, gross ignorance of the law, gross
misconduct, manifest partiality and/or conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the
service.

We now resolve the motion for reconsideration of respondent Judge Arcaya-


Chua in A.M. No. RTJ-07-2093.

A.M. No. RTJ-07-2093

In A.M. RTJ-07-2093, Sylvia Santos filed a Complaint dated July 14, 2005
against Judge Arcaya-Chua for serious misconduct and dishonesty.

Complainant, an aunt of respondent Judges husband, alleged that in the first week
of September 2002, she asked respondents help regarding the cases of her friend,
Emerita Muoz, pending before the Supreme Court. At that time, respondent was
the Presiding Judge of the MeTC of Makati City, Branch 63. Respondent, a former
employee of the Supreme Court, said that she could help as she had connections
with some Justices of the Court; she just needed P100,000.00 which she would
give to an employee of the Court for the speedy resolution of the said cases. In the
first week of October 2002, complainant gave respondent P100,000.00 in the
privacy of the latters chamber. When complainant followed up the cases in
February 2003, respondent told her that there was a problem, as the other party was
offering P10 million to the Justices. Complainant asked respondent to return
the P100,000.00; however, respondent could no longer be contacted.[49]

In her Comment dated August 19, 2005, respondent denied the charges
against her and averred that in the months adverted to by complainant, she
(respondent) was facing protests, damaging newspaper reports and administrative
cases which caused her hypertension; thus, she could not have agreed to the
supposed transaction of complainant. When she became a judge, complainant
asked a lot of favors from her, and knowing that she worked as a Court Attorney
of the Supreme Court, complainant asked her to talk to a certain Mario Tolosa of
the Third Division, to whom complainant gave P50,000.00 for a favorable
resolution of Muoz cases. Respondent declined. Thereafter, complainant started
spreading malicious imputations against her. On April 23, 2005, complainant
begged respondent to talk to anyone in the Third Division to recover the money
she gave Tolosa. Respondent again refused. Complainant then repeatedly tried to
talk to her until April 25, 2005 when complainant threatened to file a case against
respondent with the Supreme Court. Complainant sent two demand letters
addressed to respondent's court asking for the return of the P100,000.00
complainant allegedly gave her, which letters were read by respondent's Clerk of
Court. Complainant also told respondent's husband, outside respondent's house,
that she (respondent) was corrupt, as she asked for money in order to settle cases
in court. Respondent filed cases of Grave Oral Defamation, Intriguing Against
Honor and Unjust Vexation against complainant, while complainant filed an estafa
case against her.[50]

The Court, in its Resolution dated July 4, 2007, referred this case to
Associate Justice Marina L. Buzon of the Court of Appeals for investigation,
report and recommendation.

During the preliminary conference held on September 4, 2007, complainant


manifested her desire to move for the dismissal of her complaint against
respondent.[51] In a Verified Manifestation[52] dated September 6, 2007,
complainant stated that in the latter part of August 2007, she and respondent had a
long and serious discussion about the dispute and bad feelings between them; that
after a sincere exchange of views, it dawned on complainant that her accusation
against respondent was brought about by misunderstanding, confusion and
misapprehension of facts concerning the incident subject of the present
administrative case; that for the sake of unity and harmonious relations in their
family, the complainant and respondent had reconciled and restored friendly
relations with each other; and that in view of the foregoing, complainant was no
longer interested in pursuing her administrative case against respondent.

In her Report dated October 5, 2007, Justice Buzon recommended the


dismissal of the administrative case in view of paucity of evidence upon which a
conclusion could be drawn, brought about by the withdrawal by Santos of her
complaint and her failure and refusal to prove the allegations in her Complaint.

In a Resolution[53] dated December 5, 2007, the Court, adopting the


recommendation of Justice Buzon, dismissed the complaint against respondent for
lack of evidence. The Court, in the same Resolution, also ordered complainant to
show cause why she should not be held in contempt of Court for filing an
unfounded verified Complaint dated July 14, 2005 against respondent.

Complainant submitted her Compliance dated January 6, 2008 stating that:


xxxx

2. Contrary to the impression of the Honorable Court, her administrative


complaint against Judge Evelyn Ar[c]aya-Chua is not unfounded;

3. All the allegations therein are true and based on respondents personal
knowledge;

4. The main reason why respondent did not anymore pursue her complaint was
because of the pressure of her family to forgive Judge Chua, for the sake of
unity and harmony in the family, given the fact that Judge Chuas husband
is her nephew;

5. On several occasions in August 2007, Judge Chua, her husband and their
children came to respondents house and pleaded for forgiveness. Later,
respondents sister, husband and children, as well as her close friends
persuaded her to forgive Judge Chua and let bygones be bygones, for the sake
of peace and unity in the family;
6. It is solely due to the foregoing events as well as for humane reasons that
respondent gave up her complaint against Judge Chua.[54]

In its Resolution[55] dated March 3, 2008, the Court found that complainant's
compliance was not satisfactory, and that she was trifling with court processes. The
Court then resolved to reprimand complainant with a stern warning that a more
severe penalty would be imposed on her in the event of a repetition of the
same offense; recall theResolution of the Court dated December 5, 2007; reopen
the administrative case against respondent; direct Justice Rebecca D. Salvador[56] to
conduct an investigation and submit her report and recommendation; and directed
complainant to attend all hearings scheduled by Justice Salvador under pain of
contempt of court.

In her Report dated September 23, 2008, Investigating Justice Salvador


found sufficient grounds to hold respondent liable for the offenses charged
and recommended that respondent be administratively penalized for grave
misconduct and dishonesty.

Justice Salvadors findings, as stated in the Resolution dated February 13,


2009, are as follows:

Justice Salvador found that: complainant was able to present


substantial evidence in support of her complaint against respondent;
while respondent denied that she asked for and received from
complainant P100,000.00 for the facilitation of a favorable decision on
Muoz' cases, respondent, however, admitted meeting complainant in her
office in September 2002, claiming only a different reason for such
meeting; that is, complainant was there to console her for the protests
against respondent at the time; respondent claims to have incurred
complainant's ire for declining complainants request for favors in June
2004; however, it was respondent who asserted that the complainant
asked her to talk to Mario Tolosa of the Supreme Court; complainant
asserted that she had not heard of Tolosa before; however, it was
respondent's comment and her husband's affidavit which stated that
complainant informed them on April 23, 2005 that Tolosa had gone on
absence without leave; it was respondent, as a former employee of the
Supreme Court who stood to know who Tolosa was; there was also a
strong reason to believe that respondent knew and associated with Muoz
prior to the parties' falling out, since the affidavit of Robert Chua
(Robert), respondent's husband, stated that Muoz was introduced to them
by complainant in September 2003, and that they went to Tagaytay with
her in 2004; Robert claimed, however, that the topic of case-fixing never
cropped up; although respondent filed a complaint for grave oral
defamation, intriguing against honor and unjust vexation on June 20,
2005 before complainant filed the instant administrative complaint, it
cannot be denied, however, that respondent at the time had already been
served complainant's demand letters dated April 28, 2005 and May 27,
2005; respondent's failure, both as a judge and as a lawyer, to reply to
complainants first demand letter, was unusual; considering complainants
advanced age and illnesses, respondent's claim--that complainant's
motive for filing the administrative case was respondent's refusal to give
in to complainant's request to intercede in the cases of the latter's friend--
was too paltry an explanation for complainant's willingness to expend
the time, money, effort and aggravation entailed by the administrative
case as well as the criminal case filed by and against her; complainants
compliance with the Court's Resolution, which directed her to show
cause why she should not be held in contempt for filing an unfounded
complaint against respondent, stated that the allegations in her complaint
were true and based on personal knowledge, and it was only because of
respondent and their family's pleas, as well as for humane reasons, that
she gave up her complaint against respondent.[57]

During the hearing conducted on September 3, 2008, Investigating Justice


Salvador observed that although complainant appeared weary of the demands
entailed by the administrative case, she staunchly stood pat over the veracity of her
complaint and the reasons why she decided to withdraw the same. According to
Justice Salvador, respondent had no reason to ask forgiveness from complainant, if
indeed complainant falsely instituted the administrative case against her.

Justice Salvador also gave weight to complainants testimony that the return
of the money by respondent, in addition to familial interests, induced her to
withdraw the complaint.
The Court sustained the findings and recommendation of Justice Salvador,
and rendered decision against respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua, the dispositive
portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, Judge Evelyn S. Arcaya-Chua of the Regional


Trial Court, Branch 144, Makati City is found GUILTY of gross
misconduct and is hereby SUSPENDED from office for six (6) months
without salary and other benefits. She is WARNED that the commission
of the same or a similar act in the future shall merit a more severe
penalty.[58]

Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration alleging that:

(1) The Honorable Supreme Court failed to appreciate the failure of


Sylvia Santos to present Emerita Muoz, from whom Santos procured
the P100,000.00, in the proceedings before Justice Rebecca De
Guia-Salvador;

(2) The Honorable Supreme Court failed to appreciate that one of the
bases for the dismissal of the present case of 5 December 2007 was
the Affidavit of Retraction filed by Muoz on 12 January 2006;

(3) The Honorable Supreme Court erred in sustaining the finding of


Justice Salvador that [respondent] did not refute Santos declaration
during the clarificatory hearing that [respondent] returned the money
to her;

(4) The Honorable Supreme Court erred in sustaining the other findings
of Justice Salvador; and

(5) The Honorable Supreme Court erred in not considering


[respondents] testimonial and documentary evidence.[59]

Respondent prayed that Stenographer Diana Tenerife be directed to submit


to this Court the fully transcribed stenographic notes of the proceedings held on
September 17, 2008 and to submit her tape of the proceedings on the said date, and
that her motion for reconsideration be granted and that the instant case be
dismissed.

Respondents prayer for submission to this Court of the fully transcribed


stenographic notes of the proceedings held on September 17, 2008 is an attempt to
clarify alleged inaccuracies in the said transcript of stenographic notes. The Court
notes that respondent Judge had earlier filed a Motion dated October 10, 2008 on
this matter, which was already resolved in the Resolution of the Court promulgated
on February 13, 2009, thus:

Respondent filed a Motion dated October 10, 2008, claiming that


there were significant omissions of testimonies in the Transcript of
Stenographic Notes (TSN) particularly in the statement Ibinalik naman
ho nila ang pera; and that such question was also beyond the scope of
clarificatory questions that may be propounded, as nowhere in the
previous testimonies of complainant, either in the direct or the cross-
examination, did she mention the return of the money, and it was only
during the clarifiactory hearing that it surfaces; thus, she (respondent)
was deprived of her right to cross-examine complainant. Respondent
prayed that corrections on the TSN be made, or that the testimonies of
complainant that the money was returned to me and ibinalik naman ho
nila and pera be stricken off; and in case the correction of the TSN was
no longer proper, her manifestation that the said testimony of
complainant was given only during the clarificatory hearing and, in
effect, without an opportunity for her to cross-examine the complainant.

In the Resolution dated November 26, 2008, the Court denied


respondents prayer that the corrections on the TSN be made, and
that the subject testimonies of complainant be stricken off. The
Court, however, granted her prayer and noted her Manifestation
that the subject testimony was given only during the clarificatory
hearing and in effect without granting her an opportunity to cross-
examine complainant about the same.[60]

Respondent contends that the failure of Santos to present Emerita Muoz,


from whom Santos procured the P100,000.00, during the proceedings before
Justice Salvador was fatal to Santos claims against her, and, on that basis alone,
provided a reason to dismiss the present case.
The Court is not persuaded.

Santos was an eyewitness to the procurement of the P100,000.00, and her


testimony alone, found credible in this case, is sufficient to prove the
administrative liability of respondent.

Contrary to the allegations of respondent, the Court, in sustaining the


findings of Investigating Justice Salvador, took into consideration the testimonial
and documentary evidence presented by her.

The Court reiterates its statement in the Resolution dated February 13, 2009,
thus:
x x x [M]ost telling of all the circumstances pointing to respondents guilt
is the unwavering stance of complainant that respondent did solicit and
receive P100,000.00 from her in order to facilitate a favorable ruling in
Muoz cases.

As aptly observed by Justice Salvador, complainant, when


repeatedly asked during the hearing, was consistent in her testimony:

J. DE GUIA-SALVADOR:
At the start of this afternoons proceedings, you affirmed the truth
of the matters stated in your verified complaint?

MS. SANTOS:
Opo.

J. DE GUIA-SALVADOR:
And according to you they are based on your personal knowledge?

MS. SANTOS:
My complaint is true. That is all true.

xxxx

J. DE GUIA-SALVADOR:
Ano ba ang totoo?

MS. SANTOS:
Ang sabi ko sa kanya, Evelyn, tulungan mo lang si Emerita kasi
napakatagal na ng kaso niya. Hindi niya malaman kung siya ay
nanalo o hindi. Ang sabi niya, Sige, Tita, tutulungan ko.

Evelyn, sasabihin ko and totoo ha. Huwag kang magagalit sa akin.

J. DE GUIA-SALVADOR:
Just tell us what happened.

MS. SANTOS:
Sabi niya, "Tita, sige, bigyan mo ako ng P100,000.00 at
tutulungan ko. Pagka sa loob ng tatlong buwan walang nangyari
ibabalik ko sa iyo ang P50,000.00." Which is true ha. Sinabi ko
doon sa humihingi ng pabor sa akin. Okay siya. Dumating ang
panahon. It took already years walang nangyari. Siyempre ako
ngayon ang ginigipit nung tao. Ngayon, kinausap ko siya. Sabi ko,
"Evelyn, kahit konti magbigay ka sa akin para maibigay ko kay
Emelita." Unang-una iyang Emelita may utang sa akin
ng P20,000.00 sa alahas dahil ako, Justice, nagtitinda ng alahas.
Bumili sya.

JUDGE ARCAYA-CHUA:
Your honor, at this point, may I request that the complainant be
told not to continue with her testimony because she is already
through with her direct examination.

J. DE GUIA-SALVADOR:
Noted. But allow her testimony to remain in the record.

Complainant's testimony during the clarificatory hearing also revealed her


true reasons for withdrawing her complaint. As borne out by the records and
correctly pointed out by Justice Salvador in her Report:

J. DE GUIA-SALVADOR:
I have another question regarding the verified manifestation
counsel.
Alright, we go to the verified manifestation which you filed
on September 7, 2007, and which had been marked as Exhibits
"1," "1-A," "l-B" and submarkings for respondent. You stated in
the verified complaint that the accusation against respondent was
brought about due to misunderstanding, misapprehension of facts
and confusion. Please clarify what do you mean by "the accusation
against respondent was brought about due to misunderstanding,
misapprehension of facts and confusion"?

MS. SANTOS:
Para matapos na po ang problemang iyan kaya nagka-intindihan
na kamit nagkabatian. Sa totoo lang po Justice, matagal kaming
hindi nagkibuan. Ngayon, dahil nakiusap nga po sila sa akin, kaya
ako naman ho, sige, pinatawad ko na sila dahil pamilya ko ho sila,
ang asawa niya. Kung hindi lang ho anak ng kapatid ko yan, baka
ewan ko, baka hindi ko tuluyan iyan.

J. DE GUIA-SALVADOR:
So it is not true that there were facts regarding the incident which
you misunderstood or misapprehended?

MS. SANTOS:
Naintindihan ko po iyan, Justice. Kaya nga ho, iyun na nga ho, sa
pakiusap po nila na magkasundo na po kami, ibinalik naman ho
nila ang pera, kaya ang sabi ko ho, tama na. Iyan po ang buong
katotohanan, Justice.[61]

These testimonies on record are evidence against respondent Judge Arcaya-


Chua. The Investigating Justice observed the demeanor of complainant and found
her a credible witness. It is settled rule that the findings of investigating
magistrates are generally given great weight by the Court by reason of their
unmatched opportunity to see the deportment of the witnesses as they
testified.[62] The Court found no reason to depart from such rule since Justice
Salvadors observations and findings are supported by the records.
The conduct of Judge Arcaya-Chua in this case and in A.M. No. RTJ-08-
2141 is violative of the provisions of the New Code of Judicial Conduct, thus:

Canon 1, Sec. 4. A judge shall not allow family, social, or other


relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. The prestige of judicial
office shall not be used or lent to advance the private interests of others, nor
convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special
position to influence the judge.

Canon 2, Sec. 1. Judges shall ensure that not only is their conduct above
reproach, but that it is perceived to be so in the view of a reasonable observer.

Canon 2, Sec. 2. The behavior and conduct of judges must reaffirm the
peoples faith in the integrity of the judiciary. Justice must not merely be done but
must also be seen to be done.

Canon 4, Sec. 1. Judges shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of


impropriety in all of their activities.

Administrative Sanctions

Any disciplinary action against respondent Judge Arcaya-Chua will be based


on the provisions of Rule 140 of the Rules of
[63]
Court, while disciplinary action against respondent Victoria Jamora will be
based on the Omnibus Civil Service Rules and Regulations.
Under Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, serious charges include
gross misconduct constituting violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct and gross
ignorance of the law or procedure.

Section 11, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court provides that if the respondent
Judge is guilty of a serious charge, any of the following sanctions may be
imposed:

1. Dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part of the


benefits as the Court may determine, and disqualification from
reinstatement or appointment to any public office, including
government-owned or controlled corporations: Provided,
however, That the forfeiture of benefits shall in no case include
accrued leave credits;

2. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for


more than three (3) but not exceeding six (6) months; or
3. A fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00.

Under the Omnibus Civil Service Rules and Regulations, grave misconduct
is classified as a grave offense and punished with dismissal for the first offense.

The Court sustains Justice Salvador-Fernandos finding that respondent


Victoria Jamora is guilty of grave misconduct in A.M. No. RTJ-08-2141.

The Court also sustains Justice Salvador-Fernandos finding that respondent


Judge Arcaya-Chua is guilty of gross ignorance of the law and gross misconduct in
A.M. No. RTJ-07-2049 and A.M. No. RTJ-08-2141, respectively. Respondent
Judges motion for reconsideration is denied in A.M. No. RTJ-07-2093.

The Court has held:


All those who don the judicial robe must always instill in their minds the
exhortation that the administration of justice is a mission. Judges, from the lowest
to the highest levels, are the gems in the vast government bureaucracy, beacon
lights looked upon as the embodiments of all what is right, just and proper, the
ultimate weapons against injustice and oppression.

Those who cannot meet the exacting standards of judicial conduct and
integrity have no place in the judiciary. xxx This Court will not withhold penalty
when called for to uphold the peoples faith in the judiciary.[64]

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court holds that:

1. in A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2630-RTJ, the charges against Judge Evelyn S.
Arcaya-Chua of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 144
is DISMISSED.
2. in A.M. No. RTJ-07-2049, Judge Arcaya-Chua is found GUILTY of
gross ignorance of the law and punished with SUSPENSION from office
for six (6) months without salary and other benefits.

3. in A.M. No. RTJ-07-2093, the motion for reconsideration of Judge


Arcaya-Chua is DENIED for lack of merit. The penalty
of SUSPENSION from office for a period of six (6) months without
salary and other benefits imposed upon her is RETAINED.

4. in A.M. No. RTJ-08-2141, Judge Arcaya-Chua is found GUILTY of


gross misconduct and punished with DISMISSAL from the service, with
forfeiture of all benefits, excluding accrued leave credits, with prejudice
to re-employment in any government agency or instrumentality.

5. in A.M. No. RTJ-08-2141, Victoria C. Jamora, Court Stenographer of the


Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 144 is found GUILTY of
grave misconduct and punished with DISMISSAL from the service, with
forfeiture of retirement benefits, excluding accrued leave credits, with
prejudice to re-employment in any government agency or
instrumentality.

Immediately upon service on Judge Evelyn S. Arcaya-Chua and Victoria C.


Jamora of this decision, they are deemed to have vacated their respective office,
and their authority to act as Judge and Court Stenographer, respectively, are
considered automatically terminated.

These consolidated administrative cases are referred to the Office of the Bar
Confidant for investigation, report and recommendation regarding the possible
disbarment of Judge Evelyn S. Arcaya-Chua from the practice of the legal
profession.

SO ORDERED.
Secretary of National Defense vs. Manalo G.R. No. 180906,
October 7, 2008
Facts: The brothers Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo, farmers from Bulacan who were
suspected of being members of the New Peoples Army, were forcibly taken from their
home, detained in various locations, and tortured by CAFGU and military units. After several
days in captivity, the brothers Raymond and Reynaldo recognized their abductors as
members of the armed forces led by General Jovito Palparan. They also learned that they
were being held in place for their brother, Bestre, a suspected leader of the communist
insurgents. While in captivity, they met other desaperacidos (including the still-missing
University of the Philippines students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan) who were also
suspected of being communist insurgents and members of the NPA. After eighteen months
of restrained liberty, torture and other dehumanizing acts, the brothers were able to escape
and file a petition for the writ of amparo.

Issue: Whether or not the right to freedom from fear is or can be protected by existing
laws.

Held: Yes. The right to the security of person is not merely a textual hook in Article III,
Section 2 of the Constitution. At its core is the immunity of ones person against
government intrusion. The right to security of person is freedom from fear, a guarantee of
bodily and psychological integrity and security.
To whom may the oppressed, the little ones, the desaperacidos, run to, if the Orwellian
sword of the State, wielded recklessly by the military or under the guise of police power, is
directed against them? The law thus gives the remedy of the writ of amparo, in addition to
the rights and liberties already protected by the Bill of Rights. Amparo, literally meaning to
protect, is borne out of the long history of Latin American and Philippine human rights
abusesoften perpetrated by the armed forces against farmers thought to be communist
insurgents, anarchists or brigands. The writ serves to both prevent and cure extralegal
killings, enforced disappearances, and threats thereof, giving the powerless a powerful
remedy to ensure their rights, liberties, and dignity. Amparo, a triumph of natural law that
has been embodied in positive law, gives voice to the preys of silent guns and prisoners
behind secret walls.

EN BANC

GEN. ALEXANDER B. YANO, G.R. No. 186640


Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of
the Philippines, LT. GEN. Present:
VICTOR S. IBRADO,
Commanding General, Philippine PUNO, C.J.,
Army, and MAJ. GEN. RALPH CARPIO,
A. VILLANUEVA, Commander, CORONA,
7th Infantry Division, Philippine CARPIO MORALES,
Army, VELASCO, JR.,
Petitioners, NACHURA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,
PERALTA,
BERSAMIN,
- versus - DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD,
VILLARAMA, JR.,
PEREZ, and
MENDOZA, JJ.
CLEOFAS SANCHEZ and
MARCIANA MEDINA, Promulgated:
Respondents. February 11, 2010

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

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

On December 28, 2007, respondent Cleofas Sanchez (Cleofas) filed before


this Court a petition docketed as G.R. No. 180839 for issuance of a Writ
of Amparo with Motion for Production and Inspection directed against Gen.
Hermogenes Esperon (Gen. Esperon), the then Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces
of the Philippines (AFP).

On January 2, 2008, the Court[1] resolved to issue a Writ of Amparo and


ordered Gen. Esperon to make a verified return of the writ before Court of Appeals
Justice Edgardo Sundiam, who was ordered to hear and decide the case which was
eventually redocketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 00010 WR/A.

Cleofas amended her petition[2] on January 14, 2008 to include herein co-
respondent Marciana Medina (Marciana) as therein additional petitioner, and to
implead other military officers[3] including Lt. Ali Sumangil (Lt. Sumangil) and
Sgt. Gil Villalobos[4] (Sgt. Villalobos) as therein additional respondents.
In the Amended Petition, Cleofas and Marciana (respondents) alleged that on
September 17, 2006 at around 8:00 p.m., their respective sons Nicolas Sanchez and
Heherson Medina were catching frogs outside their home in Sitio Dalin, Barangay
Bueno, Capas, Tarlac; that at around 1:00 a.m. of the next day, September 18,
2006, Nicolas wives Lourdez and Rosalie Sanchez, who were then at home, heard
gunshots and saw armed men in soldiers uniforms passing by; that at around 4:00
a.m. of the same day, Lourdez and Rosalie went out to check on Nicolas and
Heherson but only saw their caps, slippers, pana and airgun for catching frogs, as
well as bloodstains; and that they immediately reported the matter to
the barangay officials.

Respondents narrated that they, together with other family members, proceeded
on September 19, 2006 to the Capas Station of the Philippine National Police
(PNP). Accompanied by officials of the National Commission on Indigenous
Peoples (NCIP),[5] they also tried to search for Nicolas and Heherson at the Camp
Detachment of the 71stInfantry Batallion of the Philippine Army (Army) in
Barangay Burgos, San Jose, Tarlac, and at the Camp of the Bravo Company of the
Armys 71st Infantry Batallion inside Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac City, but to no avail.

Furthermore, respondents alleged that Josephine Galang Victoria, also


known as Antonina Galang (Josephine), niece of a neighbor, later informed them
that she had seen two men inside Camp Servillano Aquino of the Northern Luzon
Command (Nolcom) in San Miguel, Tarlac City on September 21, 2006, whom
Josephine later identified as Nicolas and Heherson (the victims) after respondents
had shown her their photographs; and that Josephine informed them that she saw
the victims again on September 24, 2006 and November 1, 2006,[6] this time at the
Camp of the Bravo Company of the Armys 71 st Infantry Batallion inside Hacienda
Luisita, where she had occasion to talk to Lt. Sumangil and Sgt.
Villalobos. Respondents filed a case on December 21, 2006 before the
Commission on Human Rights (CHR), which endorsed[7] the same to the
Ombudsman for appropriate action.

Contending that the victims life, liberty and security had been and continued
to be violated on account of their forced disappearance, respondents prayed for the
issuance of a writ of Amparo, the production of the victims bodies during the
hearing on the Writ, the inspection of certain military camps, [8] the issuance of
temporary and permanent protection orders, and the rendition of judgment under
Section 18 of the Rule on the Writ of Amparo.[9]

Meanwhile, a consolidated Return of the Writ,[10] verified by Gen. Esperon,


Lt. Sumangil, Sgt. Villalobos, Maj. Gen. Juanito Gomez (Maj. Gen. Gomez) as
Commander of the Armys 7th Infantry Division, and Lt. Col. Victor Bayani (Lt.
Col. Bayani) as Camp Commander of Camp Servillano Aquino of the Nolcom in
Tarlac City, was filed with the appellate court on January 24, 2008. Lt. Gen.
Alexander Yano (Lt. Gen. Yano), Commanding General of the Army, filed a
Return of the Writ upon his return from an official trip abroad.

In their Return, the military officers denied having custody of the


victims. They posited that the proper remedy of respondents was to file a petition
for the issuance of a Writ of Habeas Corpus, since the petitions ultimate objective
was the production of the bodies of the victims, as they were allegedly abducted
and illegally detained by military personnel;[11] that the petition failed to indicate
the matters required by paragraphs (c), (d) and (e), Section 5 of the Rule on the
Writ of Amparo, such that the allegations were incomplete to constitute a cause of
action, aside from being based on mere hearsay evidence, and are, at best,
speculative; that respondents failed to present the affidavits of some other
competent persons which would clearly validate their claim that the military
violated the victims right to life, liberty or security by abducting or detaining them;
and that the petition did not allege any specific action or inaction attributable to the
military officers with respect to their duties; or allege that respondents took any
action by filing a formal complaint or visiting the military camps adverted to in
order to verify Josephines claim that she saw the victims on two different
occasions inside the camps, or that they took efforts to follow up on the PNP Capas
Stations further action on their complaint.[12]

Denying he violated the victims right to life, liberty and


security, Gen. Esperon specifically asserted that, in compliance with the Defense
Secretarys directive in relation to cases of Writ of Amparo against the AFP, he
issued directives to the Nolcom Commander and the Armys Commanding General
to investigate and establish the circumstances surrounding reported disappearances
of victims insofar as the claim on the possible involvement of the military units
was concerned; and undertook to bring any military personnel involved, when
warranted by the evidence, to the bar of justice.[13]

Maj. Gen. Gomez likewise denied having custody or knowledge of the


whereabouts of the victims, stating that it was not army policy to abduct civilians
in his area of responsibility,[14] and that he was away on official business at the
time of the alleged disappearance of the victims.[15]

Lt. Col. Bayani attested that he was designated Camp Commander only on
September 1, 2007 and thus had no personal knowledge about the victims alleged
disappearance or abduction on September 18, 2006; that he was informed by his
immediate predecessor that no individuals were detained in the camp as it did not
even have detention facilities; and that in compliance with Gen. Esperons directive,
their command was conducting further investigation to verify the allegations in the
petition.[16]

Lt. Sumangil denied having spoken to Josephine inside the camp on


September 24, 2006, on which date civilians were not allowed to enter except on
official missions or when duly authorized to conduct transactions inside the
camp. He thus concluded that Josephine lied in claiming to have seen the two
victims inside the Camp of the Bravo Company of the 71 st Infantry Batallion inside
Hacienda Luisita on September 24, 2006 or at any time thereafter. He instead
recounted that on September 24, 2006, he spoke for the first and only time, but
only at the gate of the camp, with a person who identified herself as Antonina
Galang, who informed him about the disappearance of the victims since September
18, 2006. Warning him that these men were members of the New Peoples Army
(NPA), she advised him not to entertain any queries or complaints relative to their
alleged disappearance.[17]

Sgt. Villalobos echoed Sumangils disclaimer about having any of the victims
in his custody or meeting anyone named Josephine Victoria, or about the latter
having entered the camps kitchen to drink water.

Lt. Gen. Yano stated that upon his return from his official functions
overseas, he immediately inquired on the actions taken on the case. He averred that
he had never participated directly or indirectly; or consented, permitted or
sanctioned any illegal or illegitimate military operations. He declared that it had
always been his policy to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law, and to
bring those who violated the law before the court of justice.

In opposing the request for issuance of inspection and production orders, the
military officers posited that apart from compromising national security should
entry into these military camps/bases be allowed, these orders partook of the nature
of a search warrant, such that the requisites for the issuance thereof must be
complied with prior to their issuance. They went on to argue that such request
relied solely on bare, self-serving and vague allegations contained in Josephines
affidavit, for aside from merely mentioning that she saw Nicolas and Heherson on
board an army truck near the Nolcom gate and, days later, inside the kitchen of the
71st Infantry Battalion Camp inside Hacienda Luisita and while logging outside
said camp, Josephine had stated nothing more to ascertain the veracity of the
places where she allegedly saw Nicolas and Heherson.[18]

On whether the impleaded military officers were either directly or indirectly


connected with the disappearance of the victims, the appellate court, after hearing,
absolved, by the assailed Decision of September 17, 2008,[19] Gen. Esperon, Lt.
Gen. Yano, Maj. Gen. Gomez, and Lt. Col. Bayani for lack of evidence linking
them to the disappearances, and further ruled as follows:

All said, this Court is convinced that petitioners have not


adequately and convincingly established any direct or indirect link
between respondents individual military officers and the disappearances
of Nicolas and Heherson. Neither did the concerned Philippine Army
Units have exerted fully their efforts to investigate and unearth the truth
and bring the culprits before the bar of justice.

The concerned Philippine Army units (such as the Northern


Command and the 7th Infantry Division, which had jurisdiction over the
place of disappearance of Nicolas and Heherson, should exert
extraordinary diligence to follow all possible leads to solve the
disappearances of Nicolas and Heherson. The Philippine Army should be
reminded of its constitutional mandate as the protector of the people and
the State.

RELIEFS
While as We stated hereinbefore that We could not find any link
between respondents individual military officers to the disappearance of
Nicolas and Heherson, nonetheless, the fact remains that the two men are
still missing. Hence, We find it equitable to grant petitioners some reliefs
in the interest of human rights and justice as follows:

1. Inspections of the following camps: Camp Servillano Aquino,


San Miguel, Tarlac City, any military camp of the 7th Infantry Division
located in Aqua Farm, Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac City, within reasonable
working hours of any day except when the military camp is on red alert
status.

2. Thorough and Impartial Investigation for the appropriate


Investigating Unit of the Philippine Army at Camp Servillano Aquino
and the Philippine Army, 7th Infantry Division in Fort Magsaysay
to conduct their respective investigation of all angles pertaining to the
disappearances of Nicolas and Heherson and to immediately file charges
against those found guilty and submit their written report to this Court
within three (3) months from notice.

SO ORDERED.[20] (underscoring supplied)

The military officers filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration (Motion),


arguing in the main that since respondents failed to prove the allegations in their
petition by substantial evidence, the appellate court should not have granted those
reliefs.[21]

The appellate court denied the Motion by the assailed Resolution of March
3, 2009.[22]

Taking up the cudgels for the military, Gen. Alexander Yano,[23] Lt. Gen.
Victor Ibrado,[24] and Maj. Gen. Ralph Villanueva[25] (petitioners) filed the present
petition for review of the appellate courts assailed issuances, faulting it for
. . . NOT CATEGORICALLY DENYING THE PRIVILEGE OF THE
WRIT OF AMPARO PURSUANT TO SECTION 18 OF THE RULE
ON THE WRIT OF AMPARO DESPITE ITS FINDING THAT
RESPONDENTS FAILED TO PROVE THEIR ALLEGATIONS IN
THEIR PETITION FOR AMPARO BY SUBSTANTIAL
EVIDENCE. . . . [AND] . . . DIRECTING PETITIONERS TO:

(A) ALLOW RESPONDENTS TO INSPECT CAMP


SERVILLANO AQUINO, NORTH LUZON COMMAND,
PHILIPPINE ARMY, SAN MIGUEL, TARLAC CITY
AND ANY MILITARY CAMP OF THE 7TH INFANTRY
DIVISION LOCATED IN AQUA FARM, HACIENDA
LUISITA, TARLAC CITY; AND.

(B) CONDUCT THOROUGH AND IMPARTIAL


INVESTIGATION OF THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE
AGGRIEVED PARTIES, FILE CHARGES AGAINST
THOSE FOUND GUILTY AND SUBMIT WRITTEN
REPORT WITHIN THREE MONTHS FROM
[26]
NOTICE. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The Court finds merit in the petition.

In ruling in favor of Lt. Sumangil and Sgt. Villalobos, the appellate


court resolved the case on the basis of the credibility of Josephine as a witness. It
arrived at the following findings:
To prove that these two military officers took or have custody of
Nicolas and Heherson, petitioners presented Josephine Galang Victoria,
also known as Antonina Galang, a niece of petitioner Cleofas Sanchez
neighbor, who allegedly saw Nicolas and Heherson inside Camp
Servillano Aquino on September 21, 2006 when she visited her uncle, a
certain Major Henry Galang, who is allegedly living inside the camp;
that a few days later, she again saw Nicolas and Heherson at Aqua Farm
at Hacienda Luisita, where the camp of Bravo Company of the
71stInfantry Battalion is located and where Heherson was seen sweeping
the floor and Nicolas was seen cooking, having wounds in their legs near
the feet as if sustained from a gunshot wound; that on November 1,
2006, she went back upon advice of Lt. Sumangil to give her a cellfone
which Tech. Sgt. Villalobos handed to her for her to know where Nicolas
and Heherson will be brought; that they [sic] saw the two outside getting
some woods under the watchful eye of a soldier when Sumangil kicked
Nicolas for being slow and thereafter, she did not see the two anymore.
While Josephine Galang Victorias story of how she saw the
subject two missing persons (Nicolas and Heherson) appeared initially as
plausible, however, her credibility as a witness had been successfully
destroyed by the following witnesses presented by the respondents.

1) Barangay Captain Rodolfo P. Supan of Cut-Cut II, Tarlac City,


attested that she knows a certain woman named Josephine Galang
Victoria who introduces herself as Antonina Galang, niece through the
cousin of his wife and a long-time resident of Cut-Cut II since birth until
she lived with her partner Philip Victoria and they still visit and goes to
her auntie or siblings house; that he knows the reputation of Josephine
Victoria as bad regarding her telling the truth, her truthfulness and
integrity, known to fool others and invents stories for money reasons,
that she cannot be trusted even if she is under oath before God and the
State.

2) As if that is not yet enough, Gloria Galang Mansalay testified


that she is a resident of Cut-Cut II since birth in 1964 and she knows
Josephine Galang Victoria because she is her niecebeing the daughter of
her older brother; that she even took care of Antonina as a child but her
general reputation in telling the truth, her fidelity and integrity is bad,
known to fool others, a liar and invent [sic] stories for reason of money.

3) Clarita Galang Ricafrente saying that she is a resident of Cut-


cut II and Antonina Galang is a niece and attested the same negative
reputations against Antonina.

It appears that said negative testimonies of Josephine


Galang Victorias relatives were never successfully rebutted by her and
the Court gives credence to them. No ill motive [sic] were established
against the said witnesses to testify against Antonina Galang.

Furthermore, Antonina Galang stated that she was in Camp


Servillano Aquino when she first saw Nicolas and Heherson riding in an
army truck because she was visiting her uncle, Major Henry Galang,
allegedly living in the camp. Parenthetically, this story of Antonina
Galang was put to doubt. TSG Edgard Reyes who attested that as a meter
reader in the camp, Major Galang was no longer residing there in
September 2006. This testimony and revelation of TSG Reyes only
bolstered the testimonies of the other witnesses on Antonina Galangs
penchant to invent stories or tell a lie.
In sum, We are not inclined to give credence to the claims of
Antonina Galang that the two missing person [sic] she saw first in Camp
Servillano Aquino and later, in Aqua Farm, were Nicolas and Heherson.
Notably, Antonina Galang never did see the faces of the two but were
known to her through photographs. Certainly, there may be a difference
between photographs and the faces in person.

To be noted also is that even the two wives of Nicolas did not
make an express attestation that they saw Nicolas and Heherson in the
company of those armed men who passed their place in the early
morning of September 18, 2006.[27] (underscoring supplied)

NOTABLY, respondents neither moved for reconsideration nor appealed the


appellate courts September 17, 2008 Decision.

The entrenched procedural rule in this jurisdiction is that a party who did not
appeal cannot assign such errors as are designed to have the judgment
modified. All that said appellee can do is to make a counter-assignment of errors or
to argue on issues raised at the trial only for the purpose of sustaining the judgment
in his favor, even on grounds not included in the decision of the court a quo or
raised in the appellants assignment of errors or arguments.[28]

This tenet is enshrined as one of the basic principles in our rules of


procedure, specifically to avoid ambiguity in the presentation of issues, facilitate
the setting forth of arguments by the parties, and aid the court in making its
determinations. A party who fails to acquire complete relief from a decision of the
court has various remedies to correct an omission by the court. He may move for a
correction or clarification of judgment, or even seek its modification through
ordinary appeal. There is thus no basis for the Court to skip the rule and excuse
herein respondents for failure to properly avail themselves of the remedies in the
face of the parties contentions that have remained disputed.[29]

What is thus left for the Court to resolve is the issue of whether the grant of
the RELIEFS[30] by the appellate court after finding want of substantial evidence
are valid and proper.
Sections 17 and 18 of the Amparo Rule lay down the requisite standard of
proof necessary to prove either partys claim, viz:

SEC. 17. Burden of Proof and Standard of Diligence


Required. The parties shall establish their claim by substantial
evidence.

The respondent who is a private individual or entity must prove


that ordinary diligence as required by applicable laws, rules and
regulations was observed in the performance of duty.

The respondent who is a public official or employee must prove


that extraordinary diligence as required by applicable laws, rules and
regulations was observed in the performance of duty.

The respondent public official or employee cannot invoke the


presumption that official duty has been regularly performed to evade
responsibility or liability.

SEC. 18. Judgment. The Court shall render judgment within ten
(10) days from the time the petition is submitted for decision. If the
allegations in the petition are proven by substantial evidence, the court
shall grant the privilege of the writ and such reliefs as may be proper and
appropriate; otherwise, the privilege shall be denied. (emphasis and
underscoring supplied)

The requisite standard of proof substantial evidence speaks of the clear


intent of the Rule to have the equivalent of an administrative proceeding, albeit
judicially conducted, in resolving amparo petitions.

To the appellate court, the evidence adduced in the present case failed to
measure up to that standard substantial evidence which a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Since respondents did not avail of any
remedy against the adverse judgment, the appellate courts decision is, insofar as it
concerns them, now beyond the ambit of review.
Meanwhile, the requirement for a government official or employee to
observe extraordinary diligence in the performance of duty stresses the
extraordinary measures expected to be taken in safeguarding every citizens
constitutional rights as well as in the investigation of cases of extra-judicial killings
and enforced disappearances.[31]

The failure to establish that the public official observed extraordinary


diligence in the performance of duty does not result in the automatic grant of the
privilege of the amparo writ. It does not relieve the petitioner from establishing his
or her claim by substantial evidence. The omission or inaction on the part of the
public official provides, however, some basis for the petitioner to move and for the
court to grant certain interim reliefs.

In line with this, Section 14 of the Amparo Rule provides for interim or
provisional reliefs that the courts may grant in order to, inter alia, protect the
witnesses and the rights of the parties, and preserve all relevant evidence, viz:

SEC. 14. Interim Reliefs. Upon filing of the petition or at


anytime before final judgment, the court, justice or judge may grant
any of the following reliefs:

(a) Temporary Protection Order. The court, justice or judge, upon


motion or motu proprio, may order that the petitioner or the aggrieved
party and any member of the immediate family be protected in a
government agency or by an accredited person or private institution
capable of keeping and securing their safety. If the petitioner is an
organization, association or institution referred to in Section 3 (c) of this
Rule, the protection may be extended to the officers involved.

The Supreme Court shall accredit the persons and private


institutions that shall extend temporary protection to the petitioner or the
aggrieved party and any member of the immediate family, in accordance
with guidelines which it shall issue.

The accredited persons and private institutions shall comply with


the rules and conditions that may be imposed by the court, justice or
judge.
(b) Inspection Order. The court, justice or judge, upon verified
motion and after due hearing, may order any person in possession or
control of a designated land or other property, to permit entry for the
purpose of inspecting, measuring, surveying, or photographing the
property or any relevant object or operation thereon.

The motion shall state in detail the place or places to be inspected.


It shall be supported by affidavits or testimonies of witnesses having
personal knowledge of the enforced disappearance or whereabouts of the
aggrieved party.

If the motion is opposed on the ground of national security or of


the privileged nature of the information, the court, justice or judge may
conduct a hearing in chambers to determine the merit of the opposition.

The movant must show that the inspection order is necessary to


establish the right of the aggrieved party alleged to be threatened or
violated.

The inspection order shall specify the person or persons


authorized to make the inspection and the date, time, place and manner
of making the inspection and may prescribe other conditions to protect
the constitutional rights of all parties. The order shall expire five (5) days
after the date of its issuance, unless extended for justifiable reasons.

(c) Production Order. The court, justice, or judge, upon verified


motion and after due hearing, may order any person in possession,
custody or control of any designated documents, papers, books,
accounts, letters, photographs, objects or tangible things, or objects in
digitized or electronic form, which constitute or contain evidence
relevant to the petition or the return, to produce and permit their
inspection, copying or photographing by or on behalf of the movant.

The motion may be opposed on the ground of national security or


of the privileged nature of the information, in which case the court,
justice or judge may conduct a hearing in chambers to determine the
merit of the opposition.

The court, justice or judge shall prescribe other conditions to


protect the constitutional rights of all the parties. (emphasis and
underscoring supplied)
These provisional reliefs are intended to assist the court before it arrives at a
judicious determination of the amparo petition. For the appellate court to, in the
present case, still order the inspection of the military camps and order the army
units to conduct an investigation into the disappearance of Nicolas and
Heherson after it absolved petitioners is thus not in order. The reliefs granted by
the appellate court to respondents are not in sync with a finding that petitioners
could not be held accountable for the disappearance of the victims.

Respondents posit that there appears to be some shared confusion as to


whether the reliefs granted by the appellate court are final or interlocutory. They
thus implore this Court to modify the appellate courts judgment by considering the
reliefs as temporary or interlocutory and by adding thereto an order for the
production of logbooks and reports.[32]

At this late stage, respondents can no longer avail themselves of their stale
remedies in the guise of praying for affirmative reliefs in their Comment. No
modification of judgment could be granted to a party who did not appeal.[33]

If respondents believed that the September 17, 2008 Decision of the


appellate court was merely interlocutory, they had every opportunity to question
the conclusion of said court, but they did not. They could have opposed petitioners
motion for reconsideration filed with the appellate court, it being a prohibited
pleading[34] under the Amparo Rule, but they did not.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed September 17,


2008 Decision and March 3, 2009 Resolution of the Court of Appeals, insofar as it
grants the assailed earlier-quoted reliefs are SET ASIDE.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-68374 June 18, 1985

HORACIO LUNA and LIBERTY HIZON-LUNA, petitioners,


vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, HON ROQUE A. TAMAYO, as Presiding Judge of
Regional Trial Court, NCR Branch CXXXI1 Makati, Metro Manila, MARIA LOURDES SANTOS,
and SIXTO SALUMBIDES, respondents.

CONCEPCION, JR., J.:

Review on certiorari of the decision of the respondent appellate court in case CA-G. R. No. SP-
01869, entitled: " Horacio Luna, et al., petitioners, versus Hon. Roque A. Tamayo, etc., et al.,
respondents, " which affirmed an order denying a motion to restrain the execution of a final judgment
rendered in a habeas corpus case.

The records of the case show that the herein private respondent Maria Lourdes Santos is an
illegitimate child of the petitioner Horacio Luna who is married to his co-petitioner Liberty Hizon-
Luna. Maria Lourdes Santos is married to her correspondent Sixto Salumbides, and are the parents
of Shirley Santos Salumbides, also known as Shirley Luna Salumbides, who is the subject of this
child custody case.

It appears that two or four months after the birth of the said Shirley Salumbides on April 7, 1975, her
parents gave her to the petitioners, a childless couple with considerable means, who thereafter
showered her with love and affection and brought her up as their very own. The couple doted upon
Shirley who called them "Mama" and "Papa". She calls her natural parents "Mommy" and "Daddy."
When Shirley reached the age of four (4) years in 1979, she was enrolled at the Maryknoll College in
Quezon City, where she is now in Grade I I I.

A few months before September, 1980, her "Mama" and "Papa" decided to take Shirley abroad and
show her Disneyland and other places of interest in America. Shirley looked forward to this trip and
was excited about it. However, when the petitioners asked for the respondents' written consent to
the child's application for a U.S. visa, the respondents refused to give it, to the petitioners' surprise
and chagrin Shirley was utterly disappointed. As a result, the petitioners had to leave without Shirley
whom they left with the private respondents, upon the latter's request. The petitioners, however, left
instructions with their chauffeur to take and fetch Shirley from Maryknoll College every school day.

When the petitioners returned on October 29, 1980, they learned that the respondents had
transferred Shirley to the St. Scholastica College. The private respondents also refused to return
Shirley to them. Neither did the said respondents allow Shirley to visit the petitioners. In view thereof,
the petitioners filed a petition for habeas corpus with the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch XV,
against the private respondents to produce the person of Shirley and deliver her to their care and
custody. The case was docketed in court as Spec. Proc. No. 9417, and after the filing of an answer
and due hearing, a decision was rendered on March 9, 1981, declaring the petitioners entitled to the
child's custody and forthwith granted the writ prayed for.

The private respondents appealed to the then Court of Appeals where the case was docketed as
CA-G.R. No. SP-12212, and in a decision dated April 7, 1982, the appealed decision was reversed
and set aside and another entered, ordering the petitioners, among other things, to turn over Shirley
to the private respondents. The herein petitioners filed a motion for the reconsideration of the
decision but their motion was denied.

Consequently, the petitioners filed a petition for review of the decision of the appellate court. The
case was docketed herein as G.R. No. 60860 and on November 10, 1982, this Court, in a minute
resolution, denied the petition for lack of merit.
Upon finality of the judgment, the case was remanded to the court of origin and assigned to Regional
Trial Court, NCJR Branch CXXXII Makati, Metro Manila, presided over by respondent Judge Roque
A. Tamayo who, thereafter, issued an order directing the issuance of a writ of execution to satisfy
and enforce the resolution of the Supreme Court which affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals.

The execution of the judgment was vigorously opposed by the petitioners who filed a motion for the
reconsideration of the order and to set aside the writ of execution on the ground of supervening
events and circumstances, more particularly, the subsequent emotional, psychological, and
physiological condition of the child Shirley which make the enforcement of the judgment sought to be
executed unduly prejudicial, unjust and unfair, and cause irreparable damage to the welfare and
interests of the child. By reason thereof, the respondent judge called a conference among the parties
and their counsels, and conducted hearings on the petitioners' motion for reconsideration and to set
aside the writ of execution. Shirley made manifest during the hearing that she would kill herself or
run away from home if she should ever be separated from her Mama and Papa, the petitioners
herein, and forced to stay with the respondents. A portion of her testimony is quoted hereunder:

ATTY. CASTRO:

xxx xxx xxx

Q Would you want to have with your daddy and mommy, referring to
Sixto Salumbides and Maria Lourdes Salumbides

A No, sir.

Q Why not?

A Because they are cruel to me. They always spank me and they do
not love me. Whenever I am eating, they are not attending to me. It is
up to me whether I like the food or not.

xxx xxx xxx

Q Now, if you will be taken from your papa and mama (Luna
spouses) and given to your daddy and mommy (Salumbides
spouses), what would you do if you will do anything?

A I will either kill myself or I will escape. Even now they said they love
me. I don't believe them. I know they are not sincere. They are only
saying that to me. And I know those words were not coming from
their hearts. If they will get me from my papa and mama, they will be
hurt because they know that my papa and mama love me very
much. 1

Dra. Cynthia Dulay Bruce, a child psychologist, affirmed her findings that

... She (Shirley) has only grown more embittered, cautions, distrusting of her
biological parents. She threatens to kill herself or run away if given to her biological
parents. She claims she would be very unhappy with her biological parents since
they do not understand her needs are selfish to her, and don't know how to care for
her. Presently, she is very difficult to encourage in seeing her biological parents in a
different light. 2

and that

... I reviewed with them (Salumbides spouse) that at the present time, to get Shirley
back in this emotionally charged transaction, would hinder Shirley seeing them as
truly loving and concerned parents. She would more deeply distrust them if they
uproot her from the home of the choice of Mr. and Mrs. Luna. The biological parents
wish to do what is also helpful to Shirley. I discussed with both parties the
recommendations of placement and follow up. 3

But, the respondent judge denied the petitioners' motion to set aside the writ of execution The
petitioners filed a motion for the reconsideration of the order and when it was denied, they filed a
petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction and restraining order with the
respondent Intermediate Appellate Court, which was docketed therein as CA-G.R. No. SP-01869, to
stop altogether the execution of the decision of the Court of Appeals rendered in CA-G.R. No. SP-
12212. The petition was duly heard, after which a decision was rendered on May 25, 1984,
dismissing the petition, Hence, the present recourse.

The issue is whether or not procedural rules more particularly the duty of lower courts to enforce a
final decision of appellate courts in child custody cases, should prevail over and above the desire
and preference of the child, to stay with her grandparents instead of her biological parents and who
had signified her intention Up kill herself or run away from home if she should be separated from her
grandparents and forced to live with her biological parents.

It is a well-known doctrine that when a judgment of a higher court is returned to the lower court, the
only function of the latter court is the ministerial one of issuing the order of execution. The lower
court cannot vary the mandate of the superior court, or examine it, for any other purpose than
execution; nor review it upon any matter decided on appeal or error apparent; nor intermeddle with it
further than to settle so much as has been demanded. However, it is also equally well-known that a
stay of execution of a final judgment may be authorized whenever it is necessary to accomplish the
ends of justice as when there had been a change in the situation of the parties which makes such
execution inequitable; or when it appears that the controversy had never been submitted to the
judgment of the court; or when it appears that the writ of execution has been improvidently issued; or
that it is defective in substance; or is issued against the wrong party; or that the judgement debt has
been paid or otherwise satisfied; or when the writ has been issued without authority.

In the instant case, the petitioners claim that the child's manifestation to the trial court that she would
kill herself or run away from home if she should be forced to live with the private respondents is a
supervening event that would justify the cancellation of the execution of the final decision rendered
by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. SP-12212. The respondents, upon the other hand, maintain
that there are no supervening developments and circumstances since these events are not new as
the Court of Appeals had taken into account the physiological and emotional consideration of the
transfer of custody of Shirley when it reversed the decision of the trial court and gave to the private
respondents the custody of the child Shirley; and besides, the wishes and desires of the child is no
hindrance to the parents' right to her custody since the right of the parents to the custody of their
children paramount.

We find merit in the petitioner. The manifestation of the child Shirley that she would kill herself or run
away from home if she should be taken away from the herein petitioners and forced to live with the
private respondents, made during the hearings on the petitioners' motion to set aside the writ of
and
execution and reiterated in her letters to the members of the Court dated September 19, 1984 4
January 2, 1985, 5 and during the hearing of the case before this Court, is a
circumstance that would make the execution of the judgment rendered in
Spec. Proc. No. 9417 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal inequitable, unfair
and unjust, if not illegal. Article 363 of the Civil Code provides that in all
questions relating to the care, custody, education and property of the children,
the latter's welfare is paramount. This means that the best interest of the
minor can override procedural rules and even the rights of parents to the
custody of their children. Since, in this case, the very life and existence of the
minor is at stake and the child is in an age when she can exercise an
intelligent choice, the courts can do no less than respect, enforce and give
meaning and substance to that choice and uphold her right to live in an
atmosphere conducive to her physical, moral and intellectual
development. 6 The threat may be proven empty, but Shirley has a right to a
wholesome family life that will provide her with love, care and understanding,
guidance and counseling. and moral and material security. 7 But what if the
threat is for real.?
Besides, in her letters to the members of the Court, Shirley depicted her biological parents as selfish
and cruel and who beat her often; and that they do not love her. And, as pointed out by the child
psychologist, Shirley has grown more embitered cautious and dismissing of her biological parents.
To return her to the custody of the private respondents to face the same emotional environment
which she is now complaining of would be indeed traumatic and cause irreparable damage to the
child. As requested by her, let us not destroy her future.

WHEREFORE, the petition should be, as it is hereby GRANTED and the writ prayed for issued,
setting aside the judgment of the respondent Intermediate Appellate Court in CA-G.R. No. SP-
01869, and restraining the respondent judge and/or his successors from enforcing the judgment
rendered by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. SP-12212. entitled: "Horacio Luna and Liberty
Hizon-Luna, petitioners-appellees, versus Maria Lourdes Santos and Sixto Salumbides,
respondents-appellants." The decision rendered in Spec. Proc. No. 9417 of the Court of First
Instance of Rizal granting the herein petitioners custody of the child Shirley Salumbides should be
maintained. Without costs. SO ORDERED.

Abad Santos, Escolin and Cuevas, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

AQUINO, J., concurring:


A judgment for the custody of the child, like a judgment for support is not final and irrevocable. The
welfare of the child is the paramount consideration. It would be for Shirley's welfare to remain in the
custody of the petitioners.

MAKASIAR, J., dissenting:

The resolution of the issue on who should have custody over the nine-year old girl has been viewed
from a limited approach. The majority opinion has been focused more on the personal assessment
of the child rather than on the general and specific laws and jurisprudence that should govern this
case. A nine-year old child, brainwashed by the material luxury as well as constant attention
showered on her by doting grandparents, cannot possibly appreciate the incomparable love and
solicitude her natural parents have for her always, in good or bad times.

The determination, therefore, as to whose custody the child belongs must necessarily and initially
involve the question of parental authority. it appears that the law on parental authority has been
conveniently side tracked by petitioners.

Parental authority, known in Roman law as patria potestas, is defined as "the mass of rights and
obligations which parents have in relation to the person and property of their children until their
majority age or emancipation, and even after this under certain circumstances" (2 Manresa 8, cited
in p. 657, Comments & Jurisprudence on the Civil Code, Tolentino, Vol. 1, 1983 ed.).

The following Civil Code provisions thus provide:

Art. 311. The father and mother jointly exercise parental authority over their
legitimate children. who are not emancipated, In case of disagreement, the father's
decision shall prevail, unless there

xxx xxx xxx

Art, 313. Parental authority cannot be renounced or transfer- red, except in cases of
guardianship or adoption approved by 'the courts, or emancipation by concession
(par. 1).

Significantly, the stern pronouncements of this Court in the case of Celis vs. Cafuir (L-3352, June 12,
1950, 86 Phil. 554) are very much in point. This Court thus declared:

The word "entrusted" cannot convey the Idea of definite and permanent
renounciation of the mother's custody of her child.

xxx xxx xxx

This Court should avert the tragedy in the years to come of having deprived mother
and son of the beautiful associations and tender, imperishable memories
engendered by the relationship of parent and child. We should not take away from a
mother the opportunity of bringing up her own child even at the cost of extreme
sacrifice due to poverty and lack of means: so that afterwards, she may be able to
look back with pride and a sense of satisfaction and her efforts, however humble, to
make her dreams of her little boy come true. We should not forget that the
relationship between a foster mother and a child is not natural but artificial. If the
child turn out to be a failure or forgetful of what its foster parents had done for him,
said parents might yet count and appraise all that they have done and spent for him
and with regret consider all of it as a dead loss, and even rue the day they committed
the blunder of taking the child into their hearts and their home. Not so with a real
natural mother who never counts, the cost and her sacrifices, ever treasuring
memories of her associations with her child, however unpleasant and disappointing.
Flesh and blood count.

xxx xxx xxx

Whether a child should stay permanently with a kindly stranger or with his own
mother, is not to be determined alone by considerations of affluence or poverty, Poor
youths who had to work their way thru school and college, have, not infrequently,
scaled the heights of success, as easily and swiftly as their more favored
companions, and done so with more, inner satisfaction, and credit to themselves and
their humble parents.

The guardianship or custody which parents exercise over -heir children is well-entrenched in this
jurisdiction. Thus, in the case of Reyes vs. Alvarez (8 Phil. 725), this Court declared:

The guardianship which parents exercise over their children by the virtue of the
paternal authority granted them by law has for its purpose their physical
development, the cultivation of their intelligence, and the development of their
intellectual and sensitive faculties. For such purposes they are entitled to control their
children and to keep them in their company in order to properly comply with their
paternal obligations, but it is also their duty to furnish them with a dwelling or a place
where they may live together.

This Court has long recognized that "the right attached to parental authority is a purely personal one,
and it is extinguished upon the death of the parent exercising it" (Abiera vs. Orin, 8 Phil. 193),

Custody embraces the sum of parental rights with respect to the rearing of a child, including his care.
It includes the right to the child's services and earnings, and the right to direct his activities and make
decisions regarding his care and control, education, health, and religion (p. 107, 59 Am. Jur. 2d.).

The right of the parents to the custody of their minor children is one of the natural rights incident to
parenthood a right supported by law and sound public policy. The right is an inherent one, which is
not created by the state or by the decision is of the courts, but derives from the nature of parental
relationship. Since the rights of parents to the custody of their minor children is both a natural and a
legal right, the law could not disturb the parent-child relationship except for the strongest reasons,
and only upon a clear showing of a parent's gross misconduct or unfitness, or of other extraordinary
circumstances affecting the welfare of the child (pp. 107 & 108, 59 Am. Jur. 2d.)

Article 363 orders that 'No mother shall be separated from her child under seven
years of age, unless the court finds compelling reasons for such measure.' One of
the cruelest acts in the world is to separate a mother from her baby. This was often
done in case of adultery by the mother, and the court ordered that the custody of the
child should be given to the father, but the new article provides otherwise because
the mother's maternal love-than which there is nothing greater in this life-should be
respected. Besides, she could not exert a bad influence on a baby. And lastly,
perhaps the presence of her child will often redeem her (p. 199, The Father of the
First Brown Race Civil Code, Rivera, 1978 Ed.).

As long as the parents are living and they have not lost their parental authority, patria potestas is
limited to them. Other ascendants have no authority over the children, even if the parents of the
latter are minors (2 Manresa 13, cited in p. 661, Comments and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code,
Tolentino, Vol. 1, 1983 Ed.).

Parental authority is inalienable and every abdication of this authority by the parents is void Planiol
and Ripert 324, p. 664, Ibid.).

Whatever agreement or arrangement there was between petitioners and respondents when the child
Shirley was given to the former, the same has not been validated nor legalized by the mere fact that
the said girl had stayed with the petitioners for a number of years, in view of the explicit provision of
Article 313 mandating that parental authority cannot be renounced or transferred, except in cases of
guardianship or adoption approved by the courts, or emancipation by concession.

Thus, the mother in case of separation, cannot by agreement vest the custody of a child in the
maternal grandmother as against the father (Mason vs. Williams, 165 Ky 331, 176 S.W. 1171, cited
in p. 662, Comments and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code, Tolentino, Vol. 1, 1983 Ed.).

Some United States courts have consistently ruled that since children cannot be bought and sold,
and since the parent is subject to obligations which he cannot throw off by any act of his own,
agreements by which the parents, or one of them, transfer custody of a child to a third person, with
the provision or informal understanding that custody will not be reclaimed, are not generally
considered legally binding contracts, unless they amount to statutory indentures of apprenticeship,
or are supported by other express statutory provisions. This is especially true in the case of a parent
who, having been compelled by poverty or unfavorable circumstances to surrender the custody of
his child, wishes to reclaim it when circumstances are improved (p. 117, 59 Am. Jur. 2d.)

For this Court to award custody over Shirley to petitioners primarily on the basis of her reaction and
choice would run counter to existing law and jurisprudence as already aforestated.

A nine-year old girl, although already at the age of discernment, is not capable of knowing or
defining varied feelings like love, anger or cruelty when such a girl has been exposed to two
contrasting conditions, the first for more than eight years and he second, for barely four months. The
child grew up amidst affluent surroundings the grandparents being well-off. The lolo and lola, as
most lolos and lolas are, doted over Shirley. In fact, she attended Maryknoll College, a school for the
elite and rode in a chauffeur-driven car. She grew up amidst a luxurious atmosphere. Perhaps, in
their own way of loving their granddaughter, they showered her with all material needs and
pampered her. Thus, the child had not been made to experience disappointments, much less
hardships. Life with her lolo and lola meant having what she wanted. In the process, Shirley moved
about in a limited world, created by her Mama (Lola) and Papa (Lolo) world felt and seen through
rose-colored lenses. The child addresses her natural parents as "Daddy" and "Mommy".

Then all of a sudden, the scenario is changed and the girl finds herself in a very contrasting
situation, Having been used to the life style offered by her grandparents and having thus absorbed a
set of values different from the average and ordinary, she now finds life with her natural parents
harsh and unbearable. With the luxurious life she had with petitioners at the back of her mind, she
would naturally look at things in the respondent's home differently and partially.
Four months is too insufficient a time for a nine-year old girl to comprehend and accept a home
atmosphere striking distinct from one where she had lived for more than eight years. Four months is
a very short time for the child to be able to understand, to absorb and to appreciate two vastly
different home conditions. Whatever set of values the second home has to offer, the same cannot
settle in a child for only four months' exposure. To Shirley, therefore, any attempted discipline
imposed her natural parents means cruelty and lack of affection for her. Where before she could
choose the food she wanted, now she has to take whatever food is available within the limited
means of her parents. She cannot realize that in a middle-class family, the choice of food is
restricted by the amount appropriated therefor. The gauge is what and how much food could benefit
all the members of the household and not just one member. Choice for particular needs becomes
secondary to what the family budget can afford for the entire family. This explains why Shirley had a
dislike for the conditions existing in respondents' house which did not cater to her tastes.

In her answers to the questions which are quite leading, one can clearly sense that Shirley, who was
used to having all the lavish care and attention from petitioners, reacted negatively to her natural
parents whose ways are so different from the former. It would take some more time and exposure for
Shirley to be able to really say that respondents do not love and care for her. She would have been
given more time in respondent's home to allow whatever values such place can offer to settle in her
mind. It was unfair for petitioners to push Shirley into a choice a decision which a nine-year old
girl could not have made intelligently without undue pressure and played-up emotionalism.

It must be noted with concern that Article 312 of the Civil Code clearly defines the specific and
limited role of grandparents when it states that "grandparents shall be consulted by all members of
the family on all important family questions." This has been interpreted to mean that as long as the
parents are living, grandparents and other ascendants have no authority over the children, even
when the parents are minors. Grandparents, therefore, cannot question the form of instruction or
education chosen by the parents for the children. The grandparents can only advise and counsel the
children. But if the parents are dead or are absent, then the grandparents shall exercise parental
authority over the children (Article 354, p. 663, Comments and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code,
Tolentino, 1983 Ed.).

Evidently, the present petition for custody of petitioners runs counter to the parental preference rule.
Under the so-called parental preference rule, a natural parent, father or mother, as the case may be,
who is of good character and a proper person to have the custody of the child and is reasonably able
to provide for such child, ordinarily is entitled to the custody as against all persons. Accordingly, such
parents are entitled to the custody of their children as against foster or prospective adoptive parents:
and such entitlement applies also as against other, relatives of the child, including grandparents, or
as against an agency or institution (pp. 207 & 208, Vol. 67A C.J.S.).

It has been an established rule that the preference of a child is only one factor to be considered, and
it is not controlling, decisive, or determinative. Thus, notwithstanding the preference, the court has a
discretion to determine the question of custody, and it is not error for the court to refuse to discuss
the custody issue with the child, The rights of a parent will not be disregarded in order to gratify the
mere wishes of a child where a parent is found to be a proper person to be entrusted with the
custody of a child (pp. 231-232, Vol. 67A C.J.S.).

In view of the foregoing, and considering that herein respondents have not been shown to be unfit or
unsuitable or financially incapable of keeping and caring for Shirley, the latter's custody should be
awarded to said respondents.
[G.R. No. 127913. September 13, 2001]

RIZAL COMMERCIAL BANKING


CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. METRO CONTAINER
CORPORATION, respondent.

DECISION
KAPUNAN, J.:

Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari are the Decision, promulgated on 18
October 1996 and the Resolution, promulgated on 08 January 1997, of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 41294.
The facts of the case are as follows:
On 26 September 1990, Ley Construction Corporation (LEYCON) contracted a loan from
Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) in the amount of Thirty Million Pesos
(P30,000,000.00). The loan was secured by a real estate mortgage over a property, located in
Barrio Ugong, Valenzuela, Metro Manila (now Valenzuela City) and covered by TCT No. V-
17223. LEYCON failed to settle its obligations prompting RCBC to institute an extrajudicial
foreclosure proceedings against it. After LEYCONs legal attempts to forestall the action of
RBCB failed, the foreclosure took place on 28 December 1992 with RCBC as the highest bidder.
LEYCON promptly filed an action for Nullification of Extrajudicial Foreclosure Sale and
Damages against RCBC. The case, docketed as Civil Case No. 4037-V-93, was raffled to the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Valenzuela, Branch 172. Meanwhile, RCBC consolidated its
ownership over the property due to LEYCONs failure to redeem it within the 12-month
redemption period and TCT No. V-332432 was issued if favor of the bank. By virtue thereof,
RCBC demanded rental payments from Metro Container Corporation (METROCAN) which was
leasing the property from LEYCON.
On 26 May 1994, LEYCON filed an action for Unlawful Detainer, docketed as Civil Case
No. 6202, against METROCAN before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Valenzuela,
Branch 82.
On 27 May 1994, METROCAN filed a complaint for Interpleader, docketed as Civil Case
No. 4398-V-94 before the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela, Metro Manila, Branch 75 against
LEYCON and RCBC to compel them to interplead and litigate their several claims among
themselves and to determine which among them shall rightfully receive the payment of monthly
rentals on the subject property. On 04 July 1995, during the pre-trial conference in Civil Case
No. 4398-V-94, the trial court ordered the dismissal of the case insofar as METROCAN and
LEYCON were concerned in view of an amicable settlement they entered by virtue of which
METROCAN paid back rentals to LEYCON.
On 31 October 1995, judgment was rendered in Civil Case No. 6202, which among other
things, ordered METROCAN to pay LEYCON whatever rentals due on the subject
premises. The MeTC decision became final and executory.
On 01 February 1996, METROCAN moved for the dismissal of Civil Case No. 4398-V-94
for having become moot and academic due to the amicable settlement it entered with LEYCON
on 04 July 1995 and the decision in Civil Case No. 6202 on 31 October 1995. LEYCON,
likewise, moved for the dismissal of the case citing the same grounds cited by METROCAN.
On 12 March 1996, the two motions were dismissed for lack of merit. The motions for
reconsideration filed by METROCAN and LEYCON were also denied prompting METROCAN
to seek relief from the Court of Appeals via a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer
for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction. LEYCON,
as private respondent, also sought for the nullification of the RTC orders.
In its Decision, promulgated on 18 October 1996, the Court of Appeals granted the petition
and set aside the 12 March 1996 and 24 June 1996 orders of the RTC. The appellate court also
ordered the dismissal of Civil Case No. 4398-V-94. RCBCs motion for reconsideration was
denied for lack of merit in the resolution of 08 January 1997.
Hence, the present recourse.
RCBC alleged, that:
(1) THE DECISION OF THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT IN THE EJECTMENT
CASE BETWEEN METROCAN AND LEYCON DOES NOT AND CANNOT RENDER
THE INTERPLEADER ACTION MOOT AND ACADEMIC.
(2) WHILE A PARTY WHO INITIATES AN INTERPLEADER ACTION MAY NOT BE
COMPELLED TO LITIGATE IF HE IS NO LONGER INTERESTED TO PURSUE
SUCH CAUSE OF ACTION, SAID PARTY MAY NOT UNILATERALLY CAUSE THE
DISMISSAL OF THE CASE AFTER THE ANSWER HAVE BEEN FILED. FURTHER,
THE DEFENDANTS IN AN INTERPLEADER SUIT SHOULD BE GIVEN FULL
OPPORTUNITY TO LITIGATE THEIR RESPECTIVE CLAIMS.[1]
We sustain the Court of Appeals.
Section 1, Rule 63 of the Revised Rules of Court[2] provides:

Section 1. Interpleader when proper. - Whenever conflicting claims upon the same
subject matter are or may be made against a person, who claims no interest whatever
in the subject matter, or an interest which in whole or in part is not disputed by the
claimants, he may bring an action against the conflicting claimants to compel them to
interplead and litigate their several claims among themselves.

In the case before us, it is undisputed that METROCAN filed the interpleader action (Civil
Case No. 4398-V-94) because it was unsure which between LEYCON and RCBC was entitled to
receive the payment of monthly rentals on the subject property. LEYCON was claiming payment
of the rentals as lessor of the property while RCBC was making a demand by virtue of the
consolidation of the title of the property in its name.
It is also undisputed that LEYCON, as lessor of the subject property filed an action for
unlawful detainer (Civil Case No. 6202) against its lessee METROCAN. The issue in Civil Case
No. 6202 is limited to the question of physical or material possession of the premises.[3] The issue
of ownership is immaterial therein[4] and the outcome of the case could not in any way affect
conflicting claims of ownership, in this case between RCBC and LEYCON. This was made clear
when the trial court, in denying RCBC's "Motion for Inclusion x x x as an Indispensable Party"
declared that "the final determination of the issue of physical possession over the subject
premises between the plaintiff and the defendant shall not in any way affect RCBC's claims of
ownership over the said premises, since RCBC is neither a co-lessor or co-lessee of the same,
hence he has no legal personality to join the parties herein with respect to the issue of physical
possession vis--vis the contract of lease between the parties."[5] As aptly pointed by the MeTC, the
issue in Civil Case No. 6202 is limited to the defendant LEYCON's breach of the provisions of
the Contract of Lease Rentals.[6]
Hence, the reason for the interpleader action ceased when the MeTC rendered judgment in
Civil Case No. 6202 whereby the court directed METROCAN to pay LEYCON whatever rentals
due on the subject premises x x x. While RCBC, not being a party to Civil Case No. 6202, could
not be bound by the judgment therein, METROCAN is bound by the MeTC decision. When the
decision in Civil Case No. 6202 became final and executory, METROCAN has no other
alternative left but to pay the rentals to LEYCON. Precisely because there was already a judicial
fiat to METROCAN, there was no more reason to continue with Civil Case No. 4398-V-
94. Thus, METROCAN moved for the dismissal of the interpleader action not because it is no
longer interested but because there is no more need for it to pursue such cause of action.
It should be remembered that an action of interpleader is afforded to protect a person not
against double liability but against double vexation in respect of one liability.[7] It requires, as an
indespensable requisite, that conflicting claims upon the same subject matter are or may be made
against the plaintiff-in-interpleader who claims no interest whatever in the subject matter or an
interest which in whole or in part is not disputed by the claimants.[8] The decision in Civil Case
No. 6202 resolved the conflicting claims insofar as payment of rentals was concerned.
Petitioner is correct in saying that it is not bound by the decision in Civil Case No. 6202. It
is not a party thereto. However, it could not compel METROCAN to pursue Civil Case No.
4398-V-94. RCBC has other avenues to prove its claim. Is not bereft of other legal remedies. In
fact, he issue of ownership can very well be threshed out in Civil Case No. 4037-V-93, the case
for Nullification of Extrajudicial Foreclosure Sale and Damages filed by LEYCON against
RCBC.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED and the Decision of the Court of
Appeals, promulgated on 18 October 1996, as well as its Resolution promulgated on 08 January
1997, are AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-41818 February 18, 1976

ZOILA CO LIM, petitioner,


vs.
CONTINENTAL DEVELOPTMENT CORPORATION, respondent.

G.R. No. L-41831 February 18, 1976


CONTINENTAL DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, petitioner,
vs.
BENITO GERVASIO TAN and ZOILA CO LIM, respondents.

Jose F. Aguirre for Zoila Co Lim.

Ismael T. Almeda for Continental Development Corporation.

Joaquin G. Chung, Jr. for Benito Gervasio Tan.

MAKASIAR, J.:

These two petitions seek a review of the order dated March 12, 1974 of the Judge presiding Branch
XXVI of the Manila Court of First Instance, dismissing petitioner Continental Development
Corporation's complaint. The COURT resolved to treat these petitions as special civil actions, the
petition to dismiss filed by the respondent Benito Gervasio Tan as answer and the cases as
submitted for decision. On November 26, 1973, herein petitioner Continental Development
Corporation filed a complaint for interpleader against the defendants Benito Gervasio Tan and Zoila
Co Lim, alleging among others:

2. That in the books of the plaintiff, there appears the name of the defendant Benito
Gervasio Tan as one of its stockholders initially sometime in 1975 with fifty (50)
common shares covered by of stock Nos. 12 and 13, and subsequently credited with
(75) shares by way of dividends covered by certificates of stock Nos. 20 and 25, or
an outstanding total stockholding of one hundred twenty five (125) common shares of
the par value of Two Hundred Fifty Pesos (P250.00) each.

3. That said defendant Benito Gervasio Tan, personally or through his lawyer, has
since December, 1972, been demanding from by letters and telegrams, the release
to him of the certificates stock aforesaid but which the plaintiff has not done so far
and is prevented from doing so because of the vehement and adverse claim thereto
by the other defendant, Zoila Co Lim.

4. That the defendant Zoila Co Lim, by letters sent to the plaintiff through her
counsel, has laid claim and persists in claiming the very same shares of stock being
demanded by the other defendant alleging that said stocks really belonged to her
mother So now already deceased, and strongly denying her proclaim to the same.

5. That both defendants, through their respective lawyers, threaten to take punitive
measures against the plaintiff company should it take any steps that may prejudice
their respective interests in so far as the stocks in question are concerned.

6. That plaintiff is not sufficiently informed of the right of the respective claimants and
therefore not in a position to determine justly and correctly their conflicting claims.

7. That the plaintiff company has no interest of any kind in said stocks and is ready
and willing to deliver the corresponding certificates of ownership to whomsoever as
this Honorable Court may direct. (pp. 22-23, rec.)
and praying that the defendants be directed to interplead and litigate their respective claims over the
aforementioned shares of stock and to determine their respective rights thereto.

On January 7, 1974, herein respondent Benito Gervasio Tan, as defendant in the lower court, filed a
motion to dismiss the complaint, on the ground, inter alia, that paragraph 2 of the complaint itself
states that the shares of stock in question are recorded in the books of petitioner in the same of
defendant Benito Gervasio Tan, who should therefore be declared owner thereof pursuant to Section
52 of the Corporation Law (pp. 25-30, rec.).

On January 14, 1974, defendant Zoila Co Lim filed her answer expressly admitting paragraph 2 of
the complaint, but alleging that the said shares of stock had previously been delivered in trust to the
defendant Benito Gervasio Tan for her (Zoila's) mother, the late So Bi, alias Tawa, the actual owner
of the shares of stock; that now Benito GervasioTan would want the re-issuance and release to him
of new replacement certificates, which petitioner has not so far done; and that as the daughter and
heir of said So Bi, alias Tawa, she is now the owner of the said shares of stock, which should be
delivered to her (pp. 31-33, rec.).

On January 22, 1974, petitioner Continental Development Corporation filed its opposition to Benito's
motion to dismiss (pp. 34-40, G.R. No. L-41831).

In the questioned order dated March 12, 1974, the trial judge dismissed the complaint for lack of
cause of action, invoking Section 35 of Act No. 1459, as amended, otherwise known as the
Corporation Law (pp. 4142, G.R. No. L-41831).

Defendant Zoila Co Lim and herein petitioner as plaintiff, filed their respective motions for
reconsideration of the aforesaid order (pp. 43-49, G.R. No. L-41831), to which the defendant Benito
Gervasio Tan filed his rejoinder (pp. 50-61, G.R. No.
L-41831). Said motions were denied in an order dated July 3, 1974.

Hence these petitions by Continental Development Corporation and Zoila Co Lim.

It is patent from the pleadings in the lower court that both defendants Benito Gervasio Tan and Zoila
Co Lim assert conflicting rights to the questioned shares of stock. Precisely in his motion to dismiss
the complaint for interpleader, defendant Benito Gervasio Tan states that petitioner corporation,
through its Vice-President, notified him on July 23, 1973 "that the shares of stock are in the
possession of its treasurer, Mr. Ty Lim, and urged defendant to directly obtain them from the former,
who allegedly was on vacation at the time. Mr. Ty Lim, on August 30, 1973, through counsel, replied
to the defendant Benito Gervasio Tan that said certificates were not in his possession but surmised,
without reference to any record, that the same might have been delivered to the deceased So Bi.
And, on October 29, 1973, same counsel of Mr. Ty Lim, wrote the corporation, in behalf of defendant
Zoila Co Lim, alleged heir of So Bi, claiming ownership of the stocks" (pp. 26, 27, G.R. No. L-41831).
Defendant Zoila Co Lim, on the other hand. as heretofore stated, claims sole-ownership of said
shares of stock as inheritance from her late mother So Bi, alias Tawa.

And petitioner Continental Development Corporation expressly stated in the complaint that both
defendants, through their respective lawyers, threatened to take punitive measures against it should
it adopt any steps that may prejudice then respective interests in the shares of stock in question; and
that it is not sufficiently informed of the rights of the respective claimants and therefore not in a
position to determine justly and correctly their conflicting claims (pars. 5, 6 and 7 of the complaint, p.
23, rec.)
And in its opposition to the motion to dismiss its complaint, petitioner Continental Development
Corporation s that it might be liable to one defendant should it comply with the demands of the other
with respect to the transfer or entry of the shares of stock in the books of the corporation.

Since there is an active conflict of interests between the two defendants, now herein respondent
Benito Gervasio Tan and petitioner Zoila Co Lim, over the disputed shares of stock, the trial court
gravely abused its discretion in dismissing the complaint for interpleader, which practically decided
ownership of the shares of stock in favor of defendant Benito Gervasio Tan. The two defendants,
now respondents in G.R. No.
L-41831, should be given full opportunity to litigate their respective claims.

Rule 63, Section 1 of the New Rules of Court tells us when a cause of action exists to support a
complaint in interpleader:

Whenever conflicting claims upon the same subject matter are or may be made
against a person, who claims no interest whatever in the subject matter, or an
interest which in whole or in part is not disputed by the complainants to compel them
to interplead and litigate their several claims among themselves (Italics supplied).

This provision only requires as an indispensable requisite:

that conflicting claims upon the same subject matter are or may be made against the
plaintiff-in-interpleader who claims no interest whatever in the subject matter or an
interest which in whole or in part is not disputed by the claimants (Beltran vs.
People's Homesite and Housing Corporation, No. L-25138,29 SCRA 145).

This ruling, penned by Mr. Justice Tee the principle in Alvarez vs. Commonwealth (65 Phil. 302), that

The action of interpleader under section 120, is a remedy whereby a person who has
personal property in his possession, or an obligation to render wholly or partially,
without claiming any right in both comes to court and asks that the persons who
claim the said personal property or who consider themselves entitled to demand
compliance with the obligation, be required to litigate among themselves, in order to
determine finally who is entitled to one or the other thing. The remedy is afforded not
to protect a person against a double liability but to protect him against a double
vexation in respect of one liability'

An interpleader merely demands as a sine qua non element

... that there be two or more claimants to the fund or thing in dispute through
separate and different interests. The claims must be adverse before relief can be
granted and the parties sought to be interpleaded must be in a position to make
effective claims (33 C.J. 430).

Additionally, the fund, thing, or duty over which the parties assert adverse claims must be one and
the same and derived from the same source (33 C.J., 328; Martin, Rules of Court, 1969 ed., Vol. 3,
133-134; Moran, Rules of Court, 1970 ed., Vol. 3, 134136).

Indeed, petitioner corporation is placed in the same situation as a lessee who does not know the
person to whom he will pay the rentals due to the conflicting claims over the property leased, or a
sheriff who finds himself puzzled by conflicting claims to a property seized by him. In these
examples, the lessee (Pangkalinawan vs. Rodas, 80 Phil. 28) and the sheriff Sy-Quia vs. Sheriff, 46
Phil. 400) were each allowed to file a complaint in interpleader to determine the respective rights of
the claimants.

WHEREFORE, THE PETITIONS ARE HEREBY GRANTED; THE ORDER DATED MARCH 12,
1974 DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT AND THE ORDER DATED JULY 3, 1974 DENYING THE
MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF THE PETITIONERS IN THESE TWO CASES ARE
HEREBY SET ASIDE. WITH COSTS AGAINST RESPONDENT BENITO GERVASIO TAN.

Arreza vs Diaz Case Digest


acebook

Facts: Bliss Development Corporation is the owner of a housing complex located in


Quezon City. It instituted before RTC Makati an interpleader case against Arreza and Diaz who
were conflicting claimants of the property (Civil Case No. 94-2086). The RTC ruled in favor of
Arreza. In view of said decision, Bliss executed a contract to sell the property to Arreza and Diaz
was constrained to transfer possession together with all improvements to Arreza.

Thereafter, Diaz filed a case against Arreza and Bliss for the reimbursement of the cost of his
acquisition and improvements on the property (Civil Case No. 96-1372). Arreza filed a Motion to
Dismiss on the ground of res judicata and lack of cause of action. RTC denied the Motion to
Dismiss.

Arreza appealed to CA which dismissed the petition saying that res judicata does not apply
because the interpleader case only settled the issue on who had a better right. It did not
determine the parties respective rights and obligations. The action filed by Diaz seeks
principally the collection of damages in the form of the payments Diaz made to Bliss and the
value of the improvements he introduced on the property matters that were not adjudicated
upon in the previous case for interpleader.

Issue: Are Diaz's claims for reimbursement against Arreza barred by res adjudicata?

Held: The court in a complaint for interpleader shall determine the rights and obligations of
the parties and adjudicate their respective claims. Such rights, obligations and claims could only
be adjudicated if put forward by the aggrieved party in assertion of his rights. That party in this
case referred to respondent Diaz. The second paragraph of Section 5 of Rule 62 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the parties in an interpleader action may file
counterclaims, cross-claims, third party complaints and responsive pleadings thereto, as
provided by these Rules. The second paragraph was added to Section 5 to expressly authorize
the additional pleadings and claims enumerated therein, in the interest of a complete
adjudication of the controversy and its incidents. Pursuant to said Rules, respondent should
have filed his claims against petitioner Arreza in the interpleader action. Having asserted his
rights as a buyer in good faith in his answer, and praying relief therefor, respondent Diaz should
have crystallized his demand into specific claims for reimbursement by petitioner Arreza. This
he failed to do. Having failed to set up his claim for reimbursement, said claim of respondent
Diaz being in the nature of a compulsory counterclaim is now barred.

The elements of res adjudicata are: (a) that the former judgment must be final; (b) the court
which rendered judgment had jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter; (c) it must be
a judgment on the merits; and (d) there must be between the first and second causes of action
identity of parties, subject matter, and cause of action. In the present case, we find there is an
identity of causes of action between Civil Case No. 94-2086 and Civil Case No. 96-1372.
Respondent Diaz's cause of action in the prior case, now the crux of his present complaint
against petitioner, was in the nature of an unpleaded compulsory counterclaim, which is now
barred. There being a former final judgment on the merits in the prior case, rendered in Civil
Case No. 94-2086 by Branch 146 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, which acquired
jurisdiction over the same parties, the same subject property, and the same cause of action, the
present complaint of respondent herein (Diaz) against petitioner Arreza docketed as Civil Case
No. 96-1372 before the Regional Trial of Makati, Branch 59 should be dismissed on the ground
of res adjudicata. (Arreza vs Diaz, G.R. No. 133113. August 30, 2001)

Mar 23, 2013

Ocampo v. Tirona Digest


Ocampo v. Tirona

Interpleader

Facts:

Respondent Tirona was a lessee of a land purchased by the petitioner. However, when the
area was declared a priority development, respondent informed petitioner that she will
suspend paying the rentals. The petitioner purchased the said land from the original
owner. This prompted the petitioner to file an action for unlawful detainer and damages
against the respondent.

The MTC held that Tirona had no reason to suspend the payment of rents as this made
her occupation of the property illegal. Thus, the petitioner has the right to recover
possession. The RTC concurred with this decision.

Issue: Whether or not an action for interpleader is proper in this case

RULING:

Yes. Tirona should have filed an interpleader and need not wait for the actual filing of a
suit by petitioner against her. The action is proper when a lessee does not know who to
pay to the rentals due to conflicting claims in the subject property.

This remedy is afforded not to protect anyone against double liabilities but to protect him
against double vexation with respect to one's liability.

When a court orders that claimants litigate among themselves there arises a new action.
The pleading which initiates the action is referred to as the complaint of interpleader and
not a cross-complaint.

G.R. No. 7749 September 9, 1913

THE CITY OF MANILA, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
BALBINA ESTRADA Y SARMIENTO, minor and only heiress of Concepcion Sarmiento,
deceased, and ARISTON ESTRADA, personally, and as administrator, defendants-appellants.

City Attorney Adams for plaintiff-appellant.

Ariston Estrada for defendants-appellants.


TRENT, J.:

After a careful examination of the entire record in this case and the law applicable to the questions
raised therein, we are of the opinion that P10 per square meter is a just compensation for the land
taken. Without prejudice to filing a more extended opinion in which our reasons will be set forth in
full, judgment will be entered accordingly, without costs. So ordered.

A short opinion was handed down in this case on February 18, 1913, and in accordance with the
reservation made therein, the court now proceeds to write an extended opinion setting forth the
reasons for its judgment in the case.

The city of Manila sought to expropriate an entire parcel of land with its improvements for use in
connection with a new market at that time being erected in the district of Paco. A complaint was filed
setting forth the necessary allegations, answer joined, and commissioners were appointed, who,
after viewing the premises and receiving evidence, and being unable to agree, submitted two reports
to the court. The court duly rendered its decision, confirming the majority report as to the
improvements, but reducing the price of the land from P20 per square meter, as fixed by the majority
report, to P15 per square meter. Motions for a new trial having been made by both parties and
denied by the court, both parties appealed from that part of the decision fixing the value of the land
at P15 per square meter. The record was therefore elevated to this court for a review of the evidence
and assigned errors of the parties. This court held that P10 per square meter was just
compensation for the land, and rendered its decision accordingly.

The court justifies such action, first, upon the ground that the great preponderance of the evidence
submitted to the commissioners showed that P10 per square meter was just compensation for the
land taken, and, second, upon the power of the court to revise the report of the commissioners when
the amount awarded is grossly inadequate or grossly excessive.

A brief resume of the evidence in regard to the value of the land will first be made. The land was
bounded by Calle Herran, the Paco Estero, the market site, and Calle Looban.

The several sessions of the commissioners at which evidence was heard took place between
September 19 and October 3, 1911.

George C. Sellner, a real estate agent, testified that he was familiar with real estate values in the city
of Manila. He stated that the land in question, fronting as it did on Calles Herran and Looban and the
Paco Estero, was worth 60 per cent more than other land near by, and placed its value at P10 per
square meter. He stated that he had carried on negotiations with regard to a parcel of land situated
on the opposite side of the estero and fronting Herran; that he was offering this land for sale at P5.50
per square meter, but that the owner succeeded in obtaining P6 per square meter, and that the sale
had been consummated only about thirty days prior to the date of the hearing. The witness stated
that this land was of about the same elevation as the parcel sought to be expropriated, but that it had
no improvements, being used for the storage of coal.

Enrique Brias, another real estate man, testified that P10 was a good price for the land. He stated
that he was the owner of the land on the opposite side of the estero which had been sold for P6 per
square meter about one month prior to the hearing, but that this land was not in such a good
commercial location.

Mr. Powell, of the Internal Revenue Bureau, testified that the Estrada land was appraised for
taxation at P6 per square meter; that prior to 1911 it had been appraised at about P4 per square
meter.
The president of the Municipal Board of the city of Manila testified that a parcel of land on the
opposite side of Calle Herran but on the same side of the Paco Estero, owned by one Clarke, had
been expropriated by the city in 1908. He stated that commissioners were appointed who duly
rendered their report to the court, but as it was accepted by both parties, no further litigation was
necessary. In this case it seems that the land desired by the city was part of a parcel fronting on
Calle Herran, whose other boundaries were the Paco Estero, some private property, and a small
callejon. The portion desired by the city compromised the entire Herran frontage of the owner. The
commissioners appraised the total area, consisting of 1,399.03 square meters at P6.50 per square
meter. The city desired only 353.21 square meters facing on Calle Herran, and the commissioners
therefore found consequential damages to the remained, due to depriving it of its Herran frontage, to
be P4.50 per square meter. These consequential damages were included in the price paid by the
city for the land taken, making the apparent price of the 353.21 square meters P7,002.05, or P19.85
per square meter.

To the same effect was the testimony of Judge Camus of the municipal court, who at the time of the
Clarke transaction was city attorney.

Ariston Estrada, one of the defendants, testified as follows:

As to the market value of the land (the subject of the present case), whatever may be its
price on the market, in my opinion, by comparing previous sales of land in the same or
similar conditions and circumstances, and having in mind the only sale which has been made
in twenty years of land equally or similarly situated to this, I believe that it is all that can serve
as a standard to ascertain the value in the market of the land in question.

xxx xxx xxx

With reference to the land, I believe I am as well as informed as the witnesses for the plaintiff
who have testified, and I estimate that the land in question should be worth on the market at
this time P25 per square meter for the reason that about P19.85 per square was paid for Mr.
Clarke's land and this was three years ago; and, on the one hand, property values have
increased in the last three years, and, on other hand, with the opening of the market,
property values along Calles Herran and Looban have increased.

From the record it appears that the improvements on the land consisted of a camarin in fairly good
condition, appraised at P4,500; a dwelling house in very bad condition, appraised at P1,500; the
former being occupied by tenants and the latter by the defendants Estrada and his family. The
remaining improvements consisted of a stone wall surrounding the lot, appraised at P1,020, and
some trees, appraised at P150.

The majority report of the committee, fixing the value of the land at P20 per square meter, states:

And lastly, with respect to the value of the land, the evidence is very contradictory. While the
evidence of the plaintiff tends to show that the value of the land does not exceed P10 per
square meter, that of the defendants, on the contrary, maintains that the value of the land is
more than P19.85 per square meter, and it is contended by the defendants that the true
market value of the land in question is P25 per square meter.

The lower court, in arriving at its decision to reduce the price of the land to P15, discussed the
Clarke transaction at some length and concluded as follows:
The court therefore understands that the price which the plaintiff accepted three years ago
for a piece of land less suited for commercial purposes than that in question, without proof
that since then the price of land in the place where the tract here considered is situated has
fallen, ought to serve as criterion for fixing the value of the land that is the subject matter of
the present expropriation.

xxx xxx xxx

So, the court holds it just and equitable to take as a compromise between the two conflicting
majority and minority opinions of the three commissioners the average of the two prices they
have fixed per square meter for the land in question, P20 and P10, respectively, fixing upon
P15 per square meter.

From this review of the evidence it appears that two disinterested witnesses for the plaintiff
corporation testified that the land was worth P10 per square meter, their statements being based
upon the prices obtained for land in the open market in the vicinity. The defendant Estrada testified
that it was worth P25 per square meter, basing his statement on the price obtained three years
previously by the owner of the parcel on the opposite side of Calle Herran of P19.85 per square
meter. It also clearly appears that the price fixed in the majority report of the commissioners was
based principally upon this same transaction, and that the compromise price fixed by the court was
based upon the evidence of this sale and the testimony of the two witnesses for the plaintiff who
fixed the price of P10 per square meter.

Attorney for the plaintiff corporation objected to the introduction of all evidence with reference to the
Clarke transaction, and so much depending upon it, it is proper to inquire as to its competency and
relevancy.

The general rule that the market value of the land taken is the just compensation to which the owner
of condemned property is entitled under the law meets with our unqualified approval. Such was our
holding in Manila R. Co. vs. Fabie (17 Phil. Rep., 206). But as stated in Packard vs. Bergen Neck
Ry. Co. (54 N. J. L., 553; 25 A., 506):

The difficulty is not with the rule, but with its application. For the determination of the market
value of land, which is that sum of money which a person, desirous but not compelled to buy
and an owner willing but not compelled to sell, would agree on as a price to be given and
received therefore, is beyond doubt difficult. The test is logically and legally correct, but it
cannot be applied to land with the accuracy with which it can be applied to stocks, bonds,
and personal property generally. Still, it is this test which admittedly must be applied, even
when the value of the land and the damages are found in separate sums.

It is a very difficult matter to limit the scope of the inquiry as to what the market value of condemned
property is. The market value of a piece of land is attained by a consideration of all those facts which
make it commercial valuable. Whether evidence considered by those whose duty it is to appraise the
land is of that nature is often a very difficult matter to decide. The Supreme Court of the United
States, in a carefully worded statement, marks out the scope of the inquiry as follows:

In determining the value of land appropriated for public purposes, the same considerations
are to be regarded as in a sale of property between private parties. The inquiry in such cases
must be what is the property worth in the market, viewed not merely with reference to the
uses to which it is at that time applied, but with reference to the uses to which it is plainly
adapted; that is to say, what is it worth from its availability for valuable uses? . . . As a
general thing, we should say that the compensation to the owner is to be estimated by
reference to the uses for which the property is suitable, having regard to the existing
business or wants of the community, or such as may be reasonably expected in the
immediate future. (98 U.S. 403; 25 L. ed., 206.)

This passage is quoted with approval in the late case of St. Louis I. M. & S. R. Co. vs. Theodore
Maxfield Co. (94 Ark., 135; 26 L.R.A. (N. S.), 111; 126 S. W., 83) a very well considered case.

The supreme court of Missouri has also formulated an exceedingly clear statement of the matter in
the Stock Yards case (120 Mo., 541):

The market value of the property means its actual value, independent of the location of
plaintiff's road thereon, that is, the fair value of the property as between one who wants to
purchase and one who wants to sell it; not what could be obtained for it in peculiar
circumstances when greater than its fair price could be obtained; not its speculative value;
not the value obtained through the necessities of another. Nor, on the other hand, is it to be
limited to that price which the property would bring when forced off at auction under the
hammer. The question is, if the defendant wanted to sell its property, what could be obtained
for it upon the market from the parties who wanted to buy and would give its full value.
(Approved in Met. Street Ry. Co. vs. Walsh, 197 Mo., 392, 418; 94 S. W., 860.)

These views are practically in accord with Lewis on Eminent Domain (2d ed.), paragraph 478, who
state the rule as follows:

The market value of property is the price which it will bring when it is offered for sale by one
who desires, but is not obliged to sell it, and is brought by one who is under no necessity of
having it. In estimating its value all the capabilities of the property, and all the uses to which it
may be applied or for which it is adapted, are to be considered, and not merely the condition
is it an at the time and the use to which it is then applied by the owner. It is not a question of
the value of the property to the owner. Nor can the damages be enhanced by his
unwillingness to sell. On the other hand, the damages cannot be measured by the value of
the property to the party condemning it, nor by its need of the particular property. All the facts
as to the condition of the property and its surrounding, its improvements and capabilities,
may be shown and considered in estimating its value. (Approved in Seaboard Air
Line vs. Chamblin, 108 Va., 42.)

In the practical application of this doctrine, the courts have been obliged to reject various kinds of
evidence which the partisan zeal of the one side has attempted to introduce in order to swell the
measure of damages, and to approve evidence which the other side has attempted to discredit in
order to reduce the amount to be realized. Three such questions present themselves in this case.

First, testimony as to mere offers for the property desired or for contiguous property is not
admissible. Upon this point we quote from the case of Keller vs. Paine (34 Hun, 167):

Its value depends upon too many circumstances. If evidence of offers is to be received it will
be important to know whether the offer was made in good faith, by a man of good judgment,
acquainted with the value of the article and of sufficient ability to pay; also whether the offer
was cash, for credit, in exchange, and whether made with reference to the market value of
the article; or to supply a particular need or to gratify a fancy. Private offers can be multiplied
to any extent for the purposes of a cause, and the bad faith in which they were made would
be difficult to prove. The reception of evidence of private offers to sell or purchase stands
upon an entirely different footing from evidence of actual sales between individuals or by
public auction, and also upon a different footing from bids made at auction sales. The
reception of this class of evidence would multiply the issues upon questions of damages to
an extent not to be tolerated by court aiming to practically administer justice between
litigants. (As quoted with approval in Yellowstone Park R. R. Co. vs. Bridger Coal Co., 34
Mont., 545.)

In the present case, the defendant Estrada testified that upon learning that the property which was
the subject of the present litigation was to be condemned, he offered to pay a real estate agent P15
per square meter for a piece of land situated in the locality with relatively similar commercial location.
This was improper evidence and should not have been considered by the commissioners. (See also
Sherlock vs. Chicago B & Q. R. Co., 130 Ill., 403; 22 N. E., 844; Winnisimmet Co. vs. Grueby, 111
Mass., 543; Montclair Ry Co. vs. Benson, 36 N. J. L., 557.)

The second point raised by the evidence taken in the present case is the admission of testimony
relative to real estate transaction in the vicinity of the land desired. The rule which admits such
evidence meets with universal approval, but with certain reservations.

In Aledo Terminal Ry. Co. vs. Butler (246 Ill., 406; 92 N. E., 909) the court said:

Evidence of voluntary sales of other lands in the vicinity and similarly situated is admissible
in evidence to aid in estimating the value of the tract sought to be condemned, but the value
of such testimony depends upon the similarity of the land to that in question and the time
when such sales were made and the distance such lands are from those the value of which
is the subject of inquiry.

The supreme court of Massachusetts, in Fourth National Bank vs. Com. (212 Mass., 66; 98 N.E.,
86), affirms the rule as follows:

It long has been settled, that in the assessment of damages where lands are acquired by
eminent domain evidence is admissible of the price received from sale of land similar in
character, and situated in the vicinity, if the transactions are not so remote in point of time
that a fair comparison practically is impossible.

In Hewitt vs. Price (204 Mo., 31) it was said:

It is sufficient to say upon this proposition that the law is well settled in this State upon that
subject, and while the value of selling price of similar property may be taken into
consideration in determining the value of the piece of property in litigation, it is equally true
that the location and character of such property should be similar and the sales of such other
property should at least be reasonably near in point of time to the at which the inquiry of the
value of the property in dispute is directed.

In Laing vs. United New Jersey R. R. & C. Co. (54 N. J. L., 576; 33 Am. St. Rep., 682; 25 A., 409) it
was said:

Generally in this and other States evidence of sale of land in the neighborhood is competent
on an inquiry as to the value of land, and if the purchases or sales were made by the party
against whom the evidence was offered it might stand as an admission. But such testimony
is received only upon the idea that there is substantial similarity between the properties. The
practice does not extend, and the rule should not be applied, to cases where the conditions
are so dissimilar as not easily to admit of reasonable comparison, and much must be left to
the discretion of the trial judge in the determination of the preliminary question conditions are
fairly comparable.
In an early case, and which will be referred to again upon another question, the supreme court of
Illinois stated the rule as follows:

The theory upon which evidence of sale of other similar property in the neighborhood at
about the same time, is held to be admissible is that it tends to show the fair market value of
the property sought to be condemned. And it cannot be doubted that such sales, when made
in a free and open market, where a fair opportunity for competition has existed, become
material and often very important factors in determining the value of the particular property in
question. (Peoria Gas Light Co. vs. Peoria Term. Ry. Co., 146 Ill., 372; 21 L. R. A., 373; 34
N. E., 550.)

Even in those States where direct evidence of particular sales is not allowed, such questions may be
directed to witnesses on cross-examination to test their credibility. This is the position taken by the
supreme court of Pennsylvania in the late cases of Rea vs. Pittsburg, etc., R. R. Co. (229 Pa., 106)
and Brown vs. City of Scranton (231 Pa., 593; 80 A., 113). See also Oregon R. & N. Co. vs.
Eastlack (54 Ore., 196; 102 Pac., 1011) where this somewhat technical differences is set forth.

Evidence of other sales is competent if the character of such parcels as sites for business purposes,
dwellings, or for whatever other use which enhances the pecuniary value of the condemned land is
sufficiently similar to the latter that it may be reasonably assumed that the price of the condemned
land would be approximately near the price brought by the parcels sold. The value of such evidence,
of course, diminishes as the differences between the property sold and the condemned land
increase. The property must be in the immediate neighborhood, that is, in the zone of commercial
activity with which the condemned property is identified, and the sales must be sufficiently coeval
with the date of the condemnation proceedings as to exclude general increases or decreases in
property values due to changed commercial conditions in the vicinity. No two estates are ever
exactly alike, and as the differences between parcels sold and the land condemned must necessarily
be taken into consideration in comparing values, we think it much better that those differences
should be shown as part of the evidence of such sales, as is the practice in Iowa. (Town of
Cherokee vs. S. C. & I. F. Town Lot and Land Co., 52 Iowa, 279, 3 N. W., 42.) And where these
differences are so great that the sales in question can form no reliable standard for comparison,
such evidence should not be admitted. (Presbrey vs. Old Colony & Newport R. Co., 103 Mass., 1.)

The testimony as to the sale of a parcel of land on the opposite side of the stereo from the
condemned land at P6 per square meter we think was properly admitted, and should have been
given much greater weight by the commissioners and the court below. This was a sale in the open
market, just one month prior to the time of the hearing before the commissioners. It was located on
the same street, Calle Herran, and on the same estero. The differences between the two parcels as
to location was that the condemned property also had a frontage on Calle Looban and was on the
same side of the estero and immediately in front of the market site. It is true that the condemned
land had improvements upon it while the parcel was vacant land. But it is also true that the values of
these improvements were estimated as separate and distinct items, and the value of the land was
estimated without regard to the improvements upon it. A sale of vacant land is evidence of the value
of neighboring land. (O'Malley vs. Com., 182 Mass., 196; 65 N.E., 30.) Basing their estimate of the
value of the condemned land upon the price obtained for the parcel mentioned, and estimating the
more favored location of the condemned land as being worth 60 per cent more than the land on the
opposite side of the estero, Sellner and Brias arrived at the conclusion that P10 per square meter (a
difference of more than 66 per cent) was a fair price for the land condemned. These witnesses were
professional real estate agents, both had been active in the vicinity at about the time they testified
before the commissioners, and were therefore peculiarly qualified to appraise the land in question.
We are inclined to agree with the opinion expressed in the case of I. I. & M. R. Co. vs.
Humiston (208 Ill., 100; 69 N. E., 880), where it is said:
The fact of salaries is not always the only factor in determining the weight of the testimony of
a witness as to value. A witness may, in forming his opinion, consider the uses and
capabilities of the property, as well as the prices at which like property in the neighborhood
has been sold. He may also base his opinion of value upon his knowledge or observation of
the growth and development of towns and cities, a general knowledge of trade and business,
rental value, the interests which the land would pay upon an investment, its productiveness,
ease of cultivation, its situation in a particular community, and other elements.

These parcels were in the same neighborhood and their respective locations and surroundings were,
with the differences above named, practically the same. The price which the parcel sold by Brias
brought was therefore of great importance as a basis for estimating the value of the condemned
land.

The next question of evidence, and the most important to this case, is the admissibility of evidence
showing prices paid for neighboring land under eminent domain proceedings. Is this class of
evidence admissible? The authorities almost with one accord reply emphatically, No. The rule is so
universal that it seems sufficient to quote from only one or two authorities. Lewis on Eminent Domain
(par. 447) says:

What the party condemning has paid for other property is incompetent. Such sales are not a
fair criterion of value, for the reason that they are in the nature of a compromise. . . . The fear
of one party or the other to take the risk of legal; proceedings ordinarily results in the one
party paying more or the other party taking less than is considered to be the fair market value
of the property. For these reasons, such sales would not seem to be competent evidence of
value in any case, whether in a proceeding by the same condemning party or otherwise.

In the case of Peoria Gas Light Co. vs. Peoria Term. Ry Co. (146 Ill., 372), from which we quoted
above sustaining the rule that sales of property in the vicinity are admissible as evidence, it was
said:

But it seems very clear that to have that tendency, they (sales of adjacent land) must have
been made under circumstances where they are not compulsory, and where the vendor is
not compelled to sell at all events, but is at liberty to invite competition among those desiring
to become purchasers. Accordingly among the various decisions in this and other States to
which our attention has been called or which our own researches have discovered, we find
none in which the price paid at a forced or compulsory sale has been admitted as competent
evidence of value.

This case is particularly valuable for its review of the authorities upon this point. Other late cases
sustaining the rule are: U.S. vs. Beaty (198 Fed. Rep., 284); City of San Luis Obispo vs. Brizzolara
(100 Cal., 434; 34 P. 1083); C.& W. I. R. R. Co. vs. Heidenreich (254 Ill., 231; 98 N.E., 567);
Howe vs. Howard (158 Mass., 278); Seaboard Air Line vs. Chamblin (108 Va., 42);
O'Day vs. Meyers (147 Wis., 549; 133 N.W., 605).

It is to be observed that this rule excluding evidence of prices obtained for neighboring land under
eminent domain proceedings is in the nature of an exception to the rule that sales of such land may
be offered in evidence, and that, speaking briefly, the underlying reason is that they are not prices
obtained "by one who desires but is not obliged to sell it, and is bought by one who is under no
necessity for having it."

The objection of the plaintiff to the introduction of evidence showing that Clarke had obtained for his
land condemned by the city on 1908 was well taken. The testimony of Estrada, based, as he himself
admits (see except of his testimony above), upon that transaction, was valueless, and the
commissioners and the lower court erred in issuing it as a basis for estimating the value of the
condemned land.

But, carrying this discussion perhaps one step further than is really necessary, we desire to say that
even were evidence of the Clarke transaction admissible in the present case, the use made of the
facts of that case by the witness Estrada, the commissioners, and the court itself, was clearly
erroneous. As was stated above, the apparent price of P19.85 for the land taken by the city was in
reality made up of P6.50 per square meter for the land itself and consequential damages to the
remaining portion of Clarke's and at the rate of P4.50 per square meter.

The damage or injury to the remainder of the land on account of the construction of the
railroad is in effect the actual taking of that much of the remainder of the land, for the
diminished market value of which the owner is entitled to full compensation. (St. Louis I. M. &
S. R. Co. vs. Theodore Maxfield Co., 94 Ark., 135; 26 L. R. A. (N. S.), 1111; 126 S. W., 83.)

The value of the property taken and the damages to the remainder of the property are two
distinct and separate things. (Louisiana Ry. & Nav. Co. vs. Morere, 116 La., 997; 41 So.,
236.)

There were no consequential damages to the defendant in the present case for the reason that
his entire holding was taken. The market value of the land taken from Clarke did not include the
consequential damages to the remainder. The deed of transfer (Exhibit 1) was obviously ambiguous
when it stated "that in consideration of the sum of P7,002.05 which the city of Manila has offered to
pay me for the said parcel of land for a sewer pumping station." This sum included the market value
of the land taken and something more the consequential damages to 1,045.82 square meters of
land remaining at P4.50 per square meter. The deed so read merely for convenience and brevity. It
was written for the purpose or transferring the land taken and was not intended to be a record of the
expropriation proceedings which culminated in its execution. It was satisfactorily proven in the
present case that the figures shown in the deed were made up in the manner we have already
described, and manifestly P19,85 is merely a fictitious value for the land taken, far beyond its true
value.

We have now eliminated the testimony of the defendant Estrada of his offer to pay P15 per square
meter for other land as well situated as that condemned; and all evidence of the Clarke transaction
in 1908. This leaves as the only evidence of record as to the value of the condemned land the
testimony of Sellner and Brias, based upon the sale of an adjacent parcel of land, which evidence
we have approved as being relevant, and the testimony of Mr. Powell to the effect that the land was
appraised for taxation at P6 per square meter, which was also relevant.

The next question which it is necessary to consider is the view of the premises made by the
commissioners. What is the purpose of this view? An exhaustive search of the authorities has been
made upon this point, and we have come to the conclusion that some of the statements made in the
earlier decisions upon the subject are not sound law.

They view the premises, and are supposed to exercise their own judgment to some extent,
irrespective of evidence. (Virginia and Truckee R. Co. vs. Henry, 8 Nev., 165.)

The testimony of witnesses as to value . . . although entitled to due consideration, is not


controlling. (City of St. Louis vs. Lanigan, 97 Mo., 175; 10 S. W., 475.)
They are to be guided largely by their own judgment as they view the premises. (City of
Kingston vs. Terry, 53 N. Y. S., 652.)

They may go and view the premises and upon the knowledge thus acquired base their
award. (Stevens vs. Railroad Co., 8 N. Y. S., 707.)

That the commissioners had a right to act upon information derived in part from a personal
view of the premises cannot be questioned. (In re certain lands in the Twelfth Ward, 68 N. Y.
S., 965.)

They are not bound by the testimony of their of these experts, and may act upon their own
personal view. (In re opening Trinity Ave., 71 N. Y. S., 24.)

Doubtless, in a proceeding of this kind, the commissioners may act upon their own judgment,
disregarding oral testimony. (Waterford E. Light, Heat & Power Co. vs. Reed, 94 N. Y. S.,
551.)

All of these statements, while made in cases where there was a conflict of evidence, and wherein
the commissioners or jury found damages within the estimates made by witnesses, if taken at their
face value would allow commissioners or special juries to assess damages at any sum they pleased.
The true rule, as laid down in the more recent cases is that the view of the premises is made for the
purpose of better enabling the appraisers to understand the evidence presented by the parties, and
giving it its proper weight. The supreme court of Colorado is substance supports this principle
in Denver Co. vs. Howe (49 Colo., 256;112 P., 779):

The jury viewed the premises and were better able to judge of the number of acres in each,
as well as other conditions affecting the land. The facts ascertained by the view of the
premises are not in the record, whether they were regarded as so much additional evidence,
or were used to better understand and apply the evidence adduced at the trial. Keeping in
view the evidence relating to the special value of the building site, the value of improvements
and of the ground, it will be found that the verdict is within and supported by the values as
testified to, and these values, as fixed by the several witnesses, represented to each the
market value, as conceded by appellants. The verdict is supported by the evidence of market
value and on that ground would have to be sustained if the matter complained of in the
instruction had been entirely omitted.

In a clear statement of the rule, the supreme court of Pennsylvania says


(Gorgas vs. Railroad Co., 144 Pa., 1;22 A., 715): "A view may sometimes be of the highest
importance, where there is a conflict of testimony. It may enable the jurors to see on which
side the truth lies. And if the witnesses on the one side of the other have testified to a state of
facts which exists only in their imagination, as to the location of the property, the manner in
which it is cut by the road, the character of the improvements, or any other physical fact
bearing upon the case, they surely cannot be expected to ignore the evidence of their
senses, and give weight to testimony which their view shows to be false. . . . The true rule, in
such cases, is believed to be that the jury in estimating the damages shall consider the
testimony as given by the witnesses, in connection with the facts as they appear upon the
view; and upon the whole case, as thus presented, ascertain the difference between the
market value of the property immediately before and immediately after the land was taken.
This difference is the proper measure of the damages.

In Close vs. Samm (27 Iowa, 503) it was said: "The question then arises as to the purpose and intent
of this statute. It seems to us that it was to enable the jury, by the view of the premises or place, to
better understand and comprehended the testimony of the witnesses respecting the same, and
thereby the more intelligently to apply the testimony to the issues on trial before them, and not to
make them silent witnesses in the case, burdened with testimony unknown to both parties, and in
respect to which no opportunity for cross-examination or correction of error, if any, could be afforded
either party. If they are thus permitted to include their personal examination, how could a court ever
properly set side their verdict as being against the evidence, or even refuse to set aside without
knowing the facts ascertained by such personal examination by the jury? It is a general rule,
certainly, if not universal, that the jury must base their verdict upon the evidence delivered to them in
open court, and they may not take into consideration facts known to them personally, but outside of
the evidence produced before them in court. If a party would avail himself of the facts known to a
juror, he must have him sworn and examined as other witnesses." (Approved in the late case of
Guinn vs. Railway Co., 131 Iowa, 680; 109 N. W., 209.)

The doctrine finds favor in Kansas. In C. K. & W. R. Co. vs. Mouriquand (45 Kan., 170), the court
approved of the practice of instructing the jury that their view of the premises was to be sued in
determining the value of conflicting testimony, saying: "Had the jury disregarded all the sworn
evidence, and returned a verdict upon their own view of the premises, then it might be said that the
evidence which the jurors acquired from making the view had been elevated to the character of
exclusive and predominating evidence. This is not allowable. The evidence of the witnesses
introduced in the court on the part of the landowner supports fully the verdict. If the verdict was not
supported by substantial testimony given by witnesses sworn upon the trial, we would set aside, but
as the jury only took into consideration the result of their view of the premises, in connection with the
sworn evidence produced before the to connection with the sworn evidence produced before them,
to determine between conflicting evidence, the instruction was not so erroneous as to require a new
trial."

A very clear statement of it is made by Dyer, J., charging a jury, in Laflin vs. Chicago W. & N. R.
Co. (33 Fed. Rep., 415): "You have been permitted to view the premises in question. The object of
this view was to acquaint you with the physical situation, condition, and surroundings of the
premises, and to enable you better to understand the evidence on the trial. The knowledge which
you acquired by the view may be used by you in determining the weight of conflicting testimony
respecting value and damage, but no farther. Your final conclusion must rest on the evidence here
adduced."

In Postal Telegraph-Cable Co. vs. Peyton (124 Ga., 746; 52 S. E., 803; 3 L. R. A. (N. S.), 333) it was
said: "A jury cannot be left to roam without any evidence in the ascertainment and assessment of
damages. The damages which the law allows to be assessed in favor of landowners whose property
has been taken or damaged under the right of eminent domain are purely compensatory. The land
actually appropriated by the telegraph company amounted to only a fraction of an acre; and while it
appeared that the construction and maintenance of the telegraph line would cause consequential
damages to the plaintiff, no proof was offered from which any fair and reasonable estimate of the
amount of damages thereby sustained could be made. The jury should have been supplied with the
data necessary in arriving at such an estimate in the absence of this essential proof, a verdict many
times in excess of the highest proved value of the land actually taken must necessarily be deemed
excessive."

The question has often been up in the State of Illinois, and the rule has been clearly stated there in
number of cases. In Sexton vs. Union Stock Yard Co. (200 Ill., 244;65 N. E., 638), a leading case, it
was said: "The evidence consisted most largely of opinions of values entertained by the different
witnesses. Their judgment varied widely and their opinions were likewise variant. The amount
allowed, though much less than the estimates of the witnesses produced in appellant's behalf, is
larger than that of the witnesses produced by the appellate company. We cannot know the effect
which was produced on the minds of the jurors by the actual inspection of the premises. The rule in
such cases as not to disturb a verdict, if it is within the range of the testimony, unless we can clearly
see that injustice has been done and that passion and prejudice influenced the action of the jury."

In the very recent case of South Park Comrs. vs. Ayer (245 Ill., 402; 92 N. E., 274) it was said: "The
jury view the premises, and the law is well settled in this State that in a condemnation proceeding,
where the jury have viewed the premises and where the evidence is conflicting, and where the
amount is within the range of value as testified to on the trial, and does not appear to have been the
result of prejudice, passion, undue influence, or other improper cause, the verdict will not be
disturbed. (Citing cases.) It is clear the amount fixed by the jury in this case was well within the
range of the evidence, which was conflicting, and the verdict should not be set aside unless it
appears it was brought about by some improper ruling of the court upon the trial."

The rule is also stated in Lanquist vs. City of Chicago (200 Ill., 69; 65 N. E., 681); in I. I. & M. R. Co.
vs. Humiston (208 Ill., 100; 69 N. E., 880); and in G. & S. R. R. R. Co. vs. Herman (206 Ill., 34; 69 N.
E., 36).

In New York, where the question has doubtless been raised more often than anywhere else, the late
cases illustrate the rule perhaps the most clearly.

The appellate division, supreme court, In re Titus Street in City of New York (123 N. Y. S., 10018),
where it appeared that the city's witnesses testified that the property was worth $9,531 and the
commissioners awarded $2,000 less said: "We do not think this is meeting the requirements of the
law; we do not believe that it is within the province of the commissioners to arbitrarily set up their
own opinion against that of the witnesses called by the city, and to award damages largely below the
figure at which the moving party is committed, without something appearing in the record to justify
such action. When a party comes into court and makes an admission against his interest, no court or
judicial tribunal is justified in assuming that the admission is not true, without at least pointing out the
reason for discrediting it; it carries within the presumption of truth, and this presumption is not to be
overcome by the mere fact that the commissioners might themselves have reached a different
conclusion upon the viewing of the premises. . . . This view of the commissioners, it seems to us, is
for the purpose of enabling the commissioners to give proper weight and effect to the evidence
before them, and it might justify them in giving larger damages than some of the witnesses thought
proper; or even less than some of them declared to be sustained. But where the evidence produced
by the moving party in a proceeding for taking property for public purposes fixes a sum, without any
disagreement in the testimony on that side, we are of the opinion that the cases do not justify a
holding that the commissioners are authorized to ignore such testimony and to substitute their own
opinion in such manner as to preclude the supreme court from reviewing the determination. That is
not in harmony with that due process of law which is always demanded where rights of property are
involved, and would make it possible for a corrupt commission to entirely disregard the rights of the
individual to the undisturbed enjoyment of his property or its equivalent."

From these authorizes, and keeping in mind the local law on the subject, we think the correct rule to
be that, if the testimony of value and damages is conflicting, the commissioners may resort to their
knowledge of the elements which affect the assessment and which were obtained from a view of the
premises, in order to determine the relative weight of conflicting testimony, but their award must be
supported by the evidence adduced at their hearings and made of record or it cannot stand; or, in
other words, the view is intended solely for the purposes of better understanding the evidence
submitted. To allow the commissioners to make up their judgment on their own individual knowledge
of disputed facts material to the case, or upon their private opinions, would be most dangerous and
unjust. It would deprive the losing party of the right of cross-examination and the benefit of all the
tests of credibility which the law affords. It would make each commissioners the absolute judge of
the accuracy and value of his own knowledge or opinions and compel the court to affirm the report
on the facts when all of such facts were not before it. The evidence of such knowledge or of the
grounds of such opinions could not be preserved on a bill of exceptions or questioned upon appeal.

It those cases where the testimony as to value and damages is conflicting, the commissioners
should always set forth in full their reasons for accepting the testimony of certain witnesses and
rejecting that of others, especially in those cases where a view of the premises has been made.

The commissioners, being disinterested landowners of the province, selected by the court for their
ability to arrive at a judicious decision in the assessment of damages, their report is entitled to
greater weight than that of an ordinary trier of facts. A mere numerical superiority of the witnesses on
the one side or the other should not be sufficient to overturn the decision arrived at by the
commissioners, as such witnesses are not required to be either landowners on judicious and
disinterested parties, as are the commissioners. The weight to be given to the testimony of a witness
might be considerable or it might be almost negligible, according to his standing in the community
and his ability and experience in real estate values. But where experts fixed the value of the
property, the lowest estimate being $5,533 and the highest $16,000, and the commissioners allowed
only $750, the court held that the award was inadequate. (In re Metropolitan El. Ry. Co., 27 N. Y. S.,
756.) And where a lessee of a building was allowed damages in an extravagant sum for his
unexpired lease, when compared with the allowance made to the owner of the property, the award
was set aside. (In re Manhattan Loop No. 1, 135 N. Y. S., 153). In Palmer vs. Harris Country (29
Tex. Civ. App., 340, 69S. W., 229) the court said:

It may be that jury were influenced by the idea that it might not have been necessary to use
all of the tract sought to be condemned for the construction of the ditch, but the proceeding
was to condemn the entire tract, and so far as presented by the record the value of the land
might be so affected by the construction of the ditch as to destroy its use by the appellant for
any purpose. . . . The verdict is so manifestly against the great preponderance of the
evidence that we deem it our duty to set it aside.

Calor Oil & Gas Co. vs. Withers (141 Ky., 489; 133 S. W., 210) was an action to condemn a strip of
land 27 feet wide and 434 feet long for a pipe line, the said strip lying wholly within a railroad right of
way. The commissioners appointed to assess the damages fixed them at $16.51. Upon appeal, the
damages were assessed at $750, which was held aside. In Mutual Union Telegraph Co. vs.
Katkamp (103 Ill., 420) it appeared that telegraph poles were to be set along the line of a railroad
right way, 1 foot from such right of way line, so that there would be eleven poles on defendant's land.
The defendant himself testified that his land was worth $60 per acre, and that the damage done
would be about $10 per pole. Two other witnesses testified that $10 per pole would be the amount of
defendant's damage. Of three witnesses for the plaintiff, one testified that the damage would be 50
cents and two that it would be $1 per pole. As only a very small fraction of an acre of defendant's
land would be taken, a verdict of $38.50 was held to be manifestly against the weight of evidence
and the judgment was reversed.

The report of the commissioners has also been set a side because a wrong principle of assessing
the damages was used. Thus, in Waterford E. Light, Heat & Power Co. vs. Reed (94 N. Y. S., 551),
the award was set aside because counsel for the plaintiff had presented to the commissioners that
the plaintiff was only acquiring the right of flowage in respect to the property in question and that the
defendants, by reason of the execution of a deed, had lost all but a nominal interest in the question
of damages, both of which theories were untrue, and which resulted in only nominal damages being
awarded to the defendants. In the matter of Gilroy (85 Hun, 424; 32 N. Y. S., 891) it appeared that
the commissioners erroneously refused to take into consideration the fact that the property was
available for use in connection with the water supply of the city of New York, in estimating the value
of the property, and the report was for that reason set aside as allowing insufficient damages. No
allowances having been made for consequential damages, the report of the commissioners was set
aside. (Williamson vs. Read, 106 Va., 453; 56 S. E., 174.) And where a deed was so construed as
embracing more land than it actually did embrace, resulting in excessive damages being awarded,
the report was set aside. (Morris & Essex R. Co. vs. Bonnell, 34 N. J. L., 474.) The report has also
been set aside for refusal to consider competent evidence. (State vs. Shuffield & Thompsonville
Bridge Co., 82 Conn., 460; 74 A., 775.)

We come now to a consideration of the amount fixed upon by this court of P10 per square meter for
the condemned lane. We have already referred to the testimony of the two real estate agents, Brias
and Sellner, which was based upon a sale of similarly situated land made only thirty days previous to
the date of the hearing; and the assessment of the property for taxation, at P6 per square meter.
This was the evidence upon which the dissenting commissioner predicated his appraisement of the
land, arriving at the same figure as did this Supreme Court of P10 per square meter. There is a
considerable difference between this valuation and P25 per square meter, as fixed by Estrada, or of
the price fixed by the majority report of the commissioners of P20 per square meter. It is to be noted
that no witnesses other than Estrada were called who could confirm the higher valuation or even
testify to an intermediate price. The price of P10 per square meter is 66 per cent greater than that
obtained for land on the opposite side of the estero, and this difference would seem amply sufficient
to compensate for the more favored location of the condemned land. That P10 per square meter is a
just compensation is shown by a great preponderance of the evidence.

"Compensation" means an equivalent for the value of the land (property) taken. Anything beyond
that is more and anything short of that is less than compensation. To compensate is to render
something which is equal to that taken or received. The word "just" is used to intensify the meaning
of the word "compensation;" to convey the idea that the equivalent to be rendered for the property
taken shall be real, substantial, full, ample. "Just compensation," therefore, as used in section 246 of
the Code of Civil Procedure, means a fair and full equivalent for the loss sustained."

The exercise of the power being necessary for the public good, and all property being held
subject to its exercise when, and as the public good requires it, it would be unjust to the
public that it should be required to pay the owner more than a fair indemnity for such loss. To
arrive at this fair indemnity, the interests of the public and of the owner and all the
circumstance of the particular appropriation should be taken into consideration. (2 Lewis on
Em. Do., 562.)

The compensation must be just to the public as well as to the owners. (Searl vs. School District, 133
U.S., 553; 33 L. ed., 740.) Section 2 44 of our code says that:

The commissioners shall assess the value of property taken and used, and shall also assess
the consequential damages to the property not taken and deduct from such consequential
damages the consequential benefits to be derived by the owners.

"To assess" is to perform a judicial act. The commissioners' power is limited to assessing the value
and to determining the amount of the damages. There it stops; they can go no further. The value and
damages awarded must be a just compensation and no more and no less. But in fixing these
amounts, the commissioners are not to act ad libitum. They are to discharge the trust reposed in
them according to well established rules and form their judgment upon correct legal principles. To
deny this is to place them where no one else in this country is placed: Above the law and beyond
accountability.

This court, after an examination of the evidence, found that the awards as fixed by the majority of the
commissioners and the trial court were grossly excessive; that a just compensation for the land
taken was P10 per square meter, and, in a short opinion, rendered judgment accordingly. It was
insisted that to so decide this case would be an conflict with former adjudicated cases by this court.
It now becomes necessary to review these cases.

In City of Manila vs. Tuason, et al. (R. G. No. 3367), decided March 23, 1907 (unreported), the court
of First Instance modified the report of the commissioners as to some to the items and confirmed it
as to others. On appeal, the Supreme Court remanded the cause, apparently for the reason that the
evidence taken by the commissioners and the lower court was not before it, and perhaps also
because the commissioners adopted a wrong principle of assessing damages.

In Manila Railroad Co. vs. Fabie (17 Phil. Rep., 206) the majority report of the commissioners
appraised the land at P56,337.18, while a dissenting commissioner estimated it at P27,415.92. The
Court of First Instance, after taking additional evidence upon the consequential benefits to the
remainder of defendant's land by the construction of the railroad, and also as to the rental value of
various pieces of land in the locality, fixed the value of the land at the sum estimated by the
dissenting commissioner. The defendants appealed to this court. This court remarked that the only
evidence tending to support the majority report of the commissioners consisted of deeds of transfer
of real estate between parties in that community showing the prices paid by the vendees in such
conveyances. It was held that without its being shown that such transfer had been made in the
ordinary course of business and competition, and that the prices therein stated were not fictitious,
such deeds were incompetent as evidence of the value of the condemned land. As to the action of
the court in fixing the price of the land at P27,415.92, the court said:

Conceding, without deciding, that he also had the right to formulate an opinion his own as to
the value of the land in question, nevertheless, if he formulate such an opinion, he must be
base it upon competent evidence. The difficulty with the case is that it affirmatively appears
from the record on appeal that there is an entire absence of competent evidence to support
the finding either of the commissioners or of the court, even if the court had a right to make a
finding of his own at all under the circumstances.

In Manila Railroad Co. vs. Attorney-General (22 Phil. Rep., 192) the only question raised was the
value of certain improvements on the condemned portion of an hacienda, such improvements
consisting mainly of plants and trees and belonging to a lessee of the premises. The total damages
claimed were P24,126.50. The majority report of the commission allowed P19,478, which amount
was reduced by the Court of First Instance to P16,778. The plaintiff company, upon appeal to this
court, alleged that the damages allowed were grossly excessive and that the amount allowed by the
commissioners should have been reduced by at least P17,000; while the defendant urged that the
damages as shown by the record were much greater than those allowed, either by the
commissioners or by the court.

The only ground upon which the plaintiff company bases its contention that the valuations
are excessive is the minority report of one of the commissioners. The values assigned to
some of the improvements may be excessive but we are not prepared to say that such is the
case. Certainly there is no evidence in the record which would justify us in holding these
values to be grossly excessive. The commissioners in their report go into rather minute detail
as to the reasons for the conclusions reached and the valuations fixed for the various items
included therein. There was sufficient evidence before the commissioners to support the
valuations fixed by them except only those later modified by the court below. The trial court
was of opinion that the price of P2 each which was fixed for the orange trees (naranjitos) was
excessive, and this was reduced to P1.50 for each tree; this on the ground that the evidence
discloses that these trees were comparatively young at the time of the expropriation, and that
the value fixed by the majority report of the commissioners was that of full-grown or nearly
full-grown trees. We are of opinion that this reduction was just and reasonable. Aside from
the evidence taken into consideration by the trial judge we find no evidence in the record in
support of the contention of the railroad plaintiff that the valuations fixed in the majority report
of the commissioners and by the trial court are grossly excessive, and plaintiff company
having wholly failed to offer evidence in support of its allegations in this regard when the
opportunity so to do was provided in accordance with law, it has no standing in this court to
demand a new trial based on its unsupported allegations of grossly excessive valuation of
the property by the commissioners and the court below.

This court affirmed the findings of damages made by the trial court with the exception of an item for
damages caused by fire to improvements on lands adjoining those condemned, which was held not
to be a proper matter to be considered in condemnation proceedings. The court here approved of
the action of the Court of First Instance in reducing the amount of damages fixed by the
commissioners as to the value of the young orange trees on the strength of the evidence of record.

In Manila Railroad Company vs. Caligsihan (R.G. No. 7932), decided March 25, 1913 (unreported),
it appears that the lower court approved in toto the report of the commissioners. On appeal, this
Supreme Court reversed the lower court and remanded the case with orders to appoint new
commissioners, saying:

Under the evidence in this case the award is excessive. Section 246 of the Code of Civil
Procedure giving to the court the power to "make such final order and judgment as shall
secure to the party the property essential to the exercise of his rights under the law, and to
the defendant just compensation for the land so take", we exercise that right in this case for
the purpose of preventing the defendants from obtaining that which would be more than "just
compensation" under all the evidence of the case.

The judgment is reversed and the cause remanded, with instructions to the lower court to
appoint a new commission and to proceed from that point de novo.

We will know examine the case (Philippine Railway Co. vs. Solon, 13 Phil. Rep., 34) relied upon to
support the proposition that the courts should not interfere with the report of the commissioners to
correct the amount of damages except in cases of gross error, showing prejudice or corruption.

In that case the property belonging to the appellant which the company sought to appropriate was
his interest as tenant in a tract of land belonging to the Government, together with a house standing
thereon and other property belonging to him. He asked that he be awarded for all the property taken
P19,398.42. The commissioners allowed him P10,745.25. At the hearing had upon the report, the
court reduced this amount and allowed the appellant P9,637.75. The commissioners took a large
amount of evidence relative to the amount of damages. The testimony was conflicting as to the value
of the house, two witnesses fixing it at over P12,000; another at over P14,000.00; one at P8,750;
another at P6,250; and another at P7,050.95. The commissioners fixed the value of the house alone
at P9,500, and the court at P8,792.50. This court said:

Nor do we decide, whether, in a case where the damages awarded by the commissioners
are grossly excessive or grossly insufficient, the court can, upon the same evidence
presented before the commissioners, itself change the award. We restrict ourselves to
deciding the precise question presented by this case, in which it is apparent that, in the
opinion of the court below, the damages were not grossly excessive, for its own allowance
was only P10,000 less than the amount allowed by the commissioners, and the question is
whether in such a case the court can substitute its own opinion upon the evidence presented
before the commissioners for the opinion which the commissioners themselves formed, not
only from the evidence but also from a view of the premises which by law they were required
to make.

Referring to the manner in which the trial court arrived at its valuation of the various items, including
the house, this court said:

Without considering the correctness of the rule adopted by the court for determining the
value of the property, it is sufficient to say that the evidence before the commissioners as to
the value of the property taken was contradictory and that their award was not palpably
excessive or inadequate. Under such circumstances, we are of the opinion of the court had
no right to interfere with it.

From the foregoing it is clear that (1) the testimony was conflicting; (2) that the award as allowed by
the commissioners was well within the amounts fixed by the witnesses; (3) that the award was not
grossly excessive. That it was not grossly excessive is shown by the difference between the amount
fixed by the commissioners and that fixed by the court, this difference being P1,117.50, a reduction
of a little over 10 per cent.

From the above review of the cases, it will be seen that this court has not only not decided that the
courts cannot interfere with the report of the commissioners unless prejudice or fraud has been
shown, but the decisions tend to show the contrary; that is, an award which is grossly excessive or
grossly insufficient cannot stand, although there be nothing which even tends to indicate prejudice or
fraud on the part of the commissioners. The case at bar is the first one wherein the court changed
the award and rendered a final judgment upon the record. Had the court the power to thus dispose
of the case?

Section 246 of the Code of Civil Procedure reads as follows: "Upon the filing of such report in court,
the court shall, upon hearing, accept the same and render judgment in accordance therewith; or for
cause shown, it may recommit the report to the commissioners for further report of facts; or it may
set aside the report and appoint new commissioners; or it may accept the report in part and reject it
in part, and may make such final order and judgment as shall secure to the plaintiff the property
essential to the exercise of his rights under the law, and to the defendant just compensation for the
land so taken; and the judgment shall require payment of the sum awarded as provided in the next
section before the plaintiff can enter upon the ground and appropriate it to the public use."

From this section it clearly appears that the report of the commissioners is not final. The judgment of
the court is necessary to give to the proceedings. Nor is the report of the commissioners conclusive,
under any circumstance, so that the judgment of the court is a mere detail or formality requisite to
the proceedings. The judgment of the court is rendered after a consideration of the commissioners'
report and the exceptions thereto submitted upon the hearing of the report. By this judgment the
court may accept the commissioners' report unreservedly; it may return the report for additional facts
or it may set the report aside and appoint new commissioners; or it may accept the report in part and
reject it in part, and "make such final order and judgment as shall secure to the plaintiff the property
essential to the exercise of his rights under the law, and to the defendant just compensation for the
land so taken." Any one of these methods of disposing of the report is available to and may be
adopted by the court according as they are deemed suited to secure to the plaintiff the necessary
property and to the defendant just compensation therefor. But can the latter method produce a
different result in reference to any part of the report from that recommended by the commissioners?
The purpose of this discussion is solely to determine this question.

Section 246 expressly authorizes the court to "accept the report in part and reject it in part." If this
phrase stood alone, it might be said that the court is only empowered to accept as a whole certain
parts of the report and reject as a whole other parts. That is, if the commissioners fixed the value of
the land taken at P5,000, the improvements at P1,000, and the consequential damages at P500, the
court could accept the report in full as to any one item and reject it as to any other item, but could not
accept or reject a part of the report in such a way as to change any one of the amounts. But the
court is also empowered "to make such final order and judgment as shall secure to the plaintiff the
property essential to the exercise of his rights under the law, and to the defendant just compensation
for the land so taken." The court is here expressly authorizes to issue such orders and render such
judgment as will produce these results. If individual items which make up the total amount of the
award in the commissioners' report could only be accepted or rejected in their entirety, it would be
necessary to return to the case, so far as the rejected portions of the report were concerned, for
further consideration before the same or new commissioners, and the court could not make a "final
order and judgment" in the cause until the rejected portions of the report had been re-reported to it.
Thus, in order to give the italicized quotation from section 246 any meaning at all, it is obvious that
the court may, in its discretion, correct the commissioners' report in any manner deemed suitable to
the occasion so that final judgment may be rendered and thus end the litigation. The "final order and
judgment" are reviewable by this court by means of a bill of exceptions in the same way as any
ordinary action. Section 496 provides that the Supreme Court may, in the exercise of its appellate
jurisdiction, affirm, reverse, or modify any final judgment, order, or decree of the Court of First
Instance, and section 497, as amended by Act No. 1596, provides that if the excepting party filed a
motion in the Court of First Instance for a new trial upon the ground that the evidence was
insufficient to justify the decision and the judge overruled said motion and due exception was taken
to his ruling, the Supreme Court may review the evidence and make such findings upon the facts by
a preponderance of the evidence and render such final judgment as justice and equity may require.
So it is clear from these provisions that this court, in those cases where the right of eminent domain
has been exercised and where the provisions of the above section have been complied with, may
examine the testimony and decide the case by a preponderance of the evidence; or, in other words,
retry the case upon the merits and render such order or judgment as justice and equity may require.
The result is that, in our opinion, there is ample authority in the statute to authorize the courts to
change or modify the report of the commissioners by increasing or decreasing the amount of the
award, if the facts of the case will justify such change or modification.

The question now arises, when may the court, with propriety, overrule the award of the
commissioners in whole or in part and substitute its own valuation of the condemned property? From
a mere reading of section 246 and the remarks just made, it should be clear that the court is
permitted to act upon the commissioners' report in one of several ways, at its own discretion. The
whole duty of the court in considering the commissioners' report is to satisfy itself that just
compensation will be made to the defendant by its final judgment in the matter, and in order to fulfill
its duty in this respect the court will be obliged to exercise its discretion in dealing with the report as
the particular circumstances of the case may require. But generally speaking, when the
commissioners' report cannot with justice be approved by the court, one of three or four
circumstances will usually present itself, each of which has for its antidote one of the methods of
dealing with the report placed at the disposal of the court by section 246. Thus, if it be successfully
established that the commissioners refused to hear competent evidence, then all the evidence in the
case would not be before the court; the court could not, with reason, attempt to either approve or
change the report, as it stood, for the reason that all the evidence of the case would not be before it;
and the remedy in this case would be to "recommit the report to the commissioners for further report
of facts." Again, if improper conduct, fraud, or prejudice be charged against the commissioners, and
this charge be sustained, it would be safer to set aside the award thus vitiated and "appoint new
commissioners" who could render a report not tainted by these things. But it is to be observed again
that this discussion is confined to a case were no competent evidence was refused by the
commissioners and no suspicion rests upon the motives of the commissioners in making the award.
When the only error of the commissioners is that they have applied illegal principles to the evidence
submitted to them; or that they have disregarded a clear preponderance of the evidence; or that they
have used an improper rule of assessment in arriving at the amount of the award, then, in such a
case, if the evidence be clear and convincing, the court should be able, by the use of those correct
legal principles which govern the case, to determine upon the amount which should be awarded
without remanding the cause. When the matter stands in this light, it becomes the duty of the court
to make "final order and judgment" in which the proper award will be made and thus end the litigation
between the parties.

In Louisiana, where the procedural law on this point is similar to our own, the supreme court has
used its powers in this respect quite frequently. And in this connection, we think it proper to quote
from a case which, in some respects, is similar to the one at bar:

On the question of the value of the land, 8.34 acres, the commissioners have allowed $2,500
or $300 per acre. The defendant has put in the record the testimony of witnesses claimed to
support the allowance. Without disregarding this testimony, it is sufficient to say that the
opinions of the witnesses do not seem to be based on any fact calculated to show the value
of the land. . . . On the other hand the plaintiff has placed before us the titles of defendant of
recent date showing the price paid by him (the defendant) for the entire body of land of which
the 8 acres are a part; the acts of sale of land in the same neighborhood, and of the same
quality; the assessment of defendant's property, and other testimony on this issue of value. .
. . Giving all possible weight, or rather restricting the testimony of the plaintiff's witnesses to
its due influence and giving, we think, necessary effect to the acts by which defendant
purchased, the acts of sale of other land, the assessment of value, with due allowance for
underassessment, and the other testimony of record, we reach the conclusion that the award
gives two-thirds more than the value of the land. We fix the value of the land at $833.33.
(Morgan's Louisiana & Texas R. R. Co. vs. Barton, 51 La. Ann., 1338.)

See also T. & P. R. R. Co. vs. Southern Develop. Co. (52 La. Ann., 53), where the court held that
appraisement made by the jury too low and after discussing the evidence, increased the amount of
the award accordingly. A similar case is Abney vs. Railroad Company (105 La., 446). See also T. &
P. R. R. Co. vs. Wilson (108 La., 1; 32 So., 173); and Louisiana Western R. Co. vs. Crossman's
Heirs (111 La., 611; 35 So., 784), where the points is touched upon.

In Missouri the statute (1 Mo. Ann. Stat., 1268) directs that "the court shall make such order
therein as right and justice may require, and may order a new appraisement, upon good cause
shown." Owing to a constitutional restriction, this provision has been construed to apply only to
damages and benefits resulting to landowners in consequence of proposed improvements, the cash
value of property expropriated being an issue triable, at the instance of either party, by a jury
subsequent to the findings of the commissioners. Subject to this restriction, however, it has been
held that the above provisions of law gives the court the right to increase or decrees the amount
awarded by the commissioners. In the late case of Tarkio Drainage District vs. Richardson (237 Mo.,
49) the court presents a lengthy review of its decisions on this subject.

We are clearly of the opinion that our holding on this branch of the case is supported not only by
reason but by the interpretation of similar provisions of law in other jurisdictions, so far as we have
had the opportunity to examine the question.

This opinion will be substitute for the short opinion rendered in the cause near the close of last term.