Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 9

Republic of the Philippines complaint was amended, that the payment was insufficient.

This Court
SUPREME COURT ruled that under the circumstances, the case was docketed upon the first
Manila payment and the trial court already acquired jurisdiction. However, the
correct fee based on the amended complaint was required to be paid.
FIRST DIVISION Same; Same; Same; The timely filing of correct docket fees is
jurisdictional, but as shown by the Supreme Court decisions, considerations
G.R. No. 131127 June 8, 2000 of law and equity come into the picture.The rule is not as simple and
uncomplicated as Manchester makes it appear. There are other
ALFONSO T. YUCHENGCO, petitioner, determining circumstances, equally important. The timely filing of correct
vs.
docket fees is jurisdictional, but as shown by our decisions, considerations
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD
GOVERNMENT, ESTATE OF FERDINAND E. MARCOS, PRIME HOLDINGS, of law and equity come into the picture. This situation likewise obtains in
INC. ESTATE OF RAMON U. COJUANGCO AND IMELDA O. the case at bar.
COJUANGCO, respondents. Same; Same; Same; Sandiganbayan; While the Supreme Court is
inclined to sustain the ruling that correct filing fees in civil cases must be
Actions; Pleadings and Practice; Docket Fees; The ruling that the paid in all courts, including the Sandiganbayan, this does not preclude a
timely filing of correct docket fees is jurisdictional is all too familiar but it ruling that, in this case, the petitioner acted in justifiable good faith.In
should be noted that the pronouncements of the Supreme Court on the the resolution submitted to us for review, the Sandiganbayan emphasized
matter have always been influenced by the peculiar legal and equitable that when P.D. No. 1606 was issued, the jurisdiction of the anti-graft court
circumstances surrounding each case.The ruling that the timely filing of was limited to criminal actions. The Sandiganbayan now tries civil cases.
correct docket fees is jurisdictional is all too familiar. It should be noted, While we are inclined to sustain the ruling that correct filing fees in civil
however, that the pronouncements of this Court on the matter have always cases must be paid in all courts, including the Sandiganbayan, this does
been influenced by the peculiar legal and equitable circumstances not preclude a ruling that, in this case, the petitioner acted in justifiable
surrounding each case. For instance, the Lazaro v. Endencia ruling was in good faith. There was ample reason for uncertainty and doubt on the
accordance with the then applicable law, i.e., Section 76 of Act No. 190 as intervenors part not merely as to the correctness of the amount to be paid
amended by Act No. 3615. In Malimit v. Degamo, this Court ruled that the but whether or not docket fees should be paid at all.
date of payment of docket fees and not the date of mailing is considered Trusts; Words and Phrases; Constructive trust is that created by reason
_______________ of equity to answer the demands of justice and prevent unjust enrichment
it arises against one who, by fraud, duress or abuse of confidence, obtains
* FIRST DIVISION. or holds the legal right to property which he ought not, in equity and good
369 conscience, hold.Considering that peti-
370
VOL. 333, JUNE 8, 2000 369
370 SUPREME COURT REPORTS
Yuchengco vs. Republic
ANNOTATED
the date of filing of a petition for quo warranto. In Garcia v.
Vasquez, this Court initially stated that a docket fee must be paid for a Yuchengco vs. Republic
second will executed by the same decedent. Subsequently, on a motion for tioner seeks to recover properties, the ownership and possession of
reconsideration, this Court reversed itself and held that the initial payment which he was allegedly deprived through fraud, duress and/or coercion, we
for the first will presented for probate was sufficient compliance. This Court hold that, assuming hypothetically these averments to be true, the legal
was even more liberal in Magaspi v. Ramolete, where the docket fee was relationship of constructive trust was present among the parties concerned
paid upon the filing of the complaint. It turned out later, after the in the said transactions. Constructive trust is that created by reason of

1
equity to answer the demands of justice and prevent unjust enrichment. It the obligee was prevented by fortuitous event from enforcing his right is
arises against one who, by fraud, duress or abuse of confidence, obtains or not reckoned against him.
holds the legal right to property which he ought not, in equity and good Supreme Court; Having the inherent power to amend and control the
conscience, hold. processes and orders, to make them conformable to law and justice, the
Prescription; Statute of Limitations; The essence of the statute of Supreme Court has the avowed duty to uphold the right of all persons to a
limitations is to prevent fraudulent claims arising from unwarranted length speedy disposition of their cases and avert the precipitate loss of rights.As
of time and not to defeat actions asserted on the honest belief that they were earlier stated, equity and the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the
sufficiently submitted for judicial determina-tion.Under normal present case necessitate this ruling. For among the parties in the case at
circumstances, petitioners cause of action should have prescribed on bar, the Sandiganbayan is the most equipped to afford petitioner the
February 26, 1996, a month before petitioner was ordered by the opportunity to present his claims. Not only that; but going back to the
Sandiganbayan to pay docket fees or two months before the docket fees pronouncements of this Court in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL) v.
were actually paid in the corrected amount of P14,825.00. However, we hold Asuncion, where we recognized that the sufficiency of the docket fees is a
that said payment could not be construed as belatedly made such as to matter for the determination of the clerk of court and/or his duly authorized
foreclose the prosecution of his claims. It should be noted that when the docket clerk or clerk in-charge, the Sandiganbayan could have immediately
issue on docket fees was raised, petitioner submitted the determination of drawn petitioners attention if its clerk of court found difficulty in
the same to the sound discretion of the Sandiganbayan. As earlier stated, determining the amount of chargeable docket fees from a reading of the
he sought for the immediate resolution of this issue as early as October 27, complaint. Even in the celebrated case of Manchester Development
1994. In the alternative, petitioner proposed to post a bond to answer for Corporation v. Court of Appeals, the trial court directed the plaintiff therein
the docket fees, if such are payable. He even filed a petition for certiorari, to rectify the flaws in its amended complaint. That way, not only could the
docketed as G.R. No. 123264, to seek an early resolution of this issue. Sandiganbayan have seasonably resolved the issues on docket fees but it
Clearly, petitioner did not sleep on his rights, and prescription has not set could very well have timely settled petitioners dilemma on what to do and
in to bar his right to seek judicial relief. The essence of the statute of what was required to preserve his rights. Courts are mandated to promptly
limitations is to prevent fraudulent claims arising from unwarranted administer justice. Having the inherent power to amend and control the
length of time and not to defeat actions asserted on the honest belief that processes and orders, to make them conformable to law and justice we have
they were sufficiently submitted for judicial determination. the avowed duty to uphold the right of all persons to a speedy disposition
Same; Same; A courts belated action after prolonged inaction on the of their cases and avert the precipitate loss of rights.
issue of the petitioners payment of docket fees is a supervening event beyond Actions; Docket Fees; Sandiganbayan; Parties filing civil actions before
the independent will and control of petitioner that tolled the running of the the Sandiganbayan are liable to pay the required docket fees.While it may
prescriptive period.To punish petitioner for public respondents failure to be argued that petitioner could have very well amended his complaint and
timely decide an issue pivotal to the success of his case would be setting a alleged the monetary values of the properties he seeks to recover to comply
bad precedent. It would give trial courts unbridled power and an unfair with Rule 141, Section 7(a) of the Rules of Court, we find, pro hac vice, that
weapon to frustrate the filing of actions. We hold that public respondents petitioner acted in good faith when he contended that proceedings before
belated action the Sandiganbayan are free of charge. The present rule must, however, be
371 372

VOL. 333, JUNE 8, 2000 371 372 SUPREME COURT REPORTS


Yuchengco vs. Republic ANNOTATED
after prolonged inaction on the issue of petitioners payment of docket Yuchengco vs. Republic
fees is a supervening event beyond the independent will and control of stressed: parties filing civil actions before the Sandiganbayan are
petitioner that tolled the running of the prescriptive period. Article 1154 of liable to pay the required docket fees. The situation only differs in the case
the Civil Code is applicable by parallelism, to wit: The period during which
2
at bar because of petitioners honest conviction manifested in his filing of a YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
reservation for the payments he made, after having been ordered by the
Sandiganbayan on (March 29, 1996 to pay the balance of P14,425.00 and This is a petition for review to set aside the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan
after the court denied his motion to post bond pending final resolution of dated October 9, 19961 dismissing petitioner's Amended-complaint-in-
the motion to dismiss. intervention and the subsequent Resolution dated October 6, 19972 denying
Same; Same; Same; The expansion of the Sandiganbayans petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
jurisdiction to include civil cases impliedly amended Section 11 of P.D. 1606
The issue in this petition is whether or not, under the undisputed circumstances
and Section 1, Rule IV, Part I of the Revised Rules of the Sandiganbayan.
at bar, the Sandiganbayan may dismiss the complaint-in-intervention for alleged
Be that as it may, petitioners position that subsequent amendments to PD failure to pay the correct amount of docket fees on time.
1606 did not expressly repeal Section 11 thereof is untenable. Petitioner
failed to appreciate that the expansion of the Sandiganbayans jurisdiction On July 16, 1987, the Republic of the Philippines (hereinafter, the Republic) filed
to include civil cases im-pliedly amended the same and Section 1, Rule IV, with the Sandiganbayan a complaint for Rescission, Reconveyance, Restitution,
Part I of the Revised Rules of the Sandiganbayan. Moreover, the Supreme Accounting and Damages against Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda Marcos and
Court enjoys exclusive power to promulgate the rules on pleading, practice, Prime Holdings, Inc. (hereinafter, PHI), docketed as Civil Case No. 0002.
and procedure. In addition, Republic Act No. 7975 amended Section 9 of Alleging ownership of the properties of the Marcoses sought to be forfeited by the
P.D. 1606 to read as follows: Rules of Procedure.The Rules of Court Republic, petitioner Yuchengco filed a motion for intervention and complaint-in-
promulgated by the Supreme Court shall apply to all cases and proceedings intervention on August 11, 1988, impleading the Republic, the Presidential
filed with the Sandiganbayan. x x x Hence, Rule 141 Section 7(a) of the Commission on Good Government (PCGG), Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda
Rules of Court applies to petitioners complaint and/or amended Marcos and PHI as defendants-in-intervention.3 Petitioner paid a docket fee of
complaints-in-intervention. P400.00.
Statutes; Statutory Construction; Rules of Procedure; Statutes
On February 17, 1989, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution granting the
regulating the procedure of the courts are applicable to actions pending and
motion for intervention and admitting the complaint-in-intervention.4 The Republic
undetermined at the time of their passage and thus, are retrospective in such filed a motion for reconsideration on March 14, 1989, which petitioner opposed.
sense and to that extent.Petitioner argues that R.A. 7975, having been
promulgated on March 30, 1995 should not be retroactively applied. This is On February 9, 1990, the Sandiganbayan denied the Republic's motion for
not so, as statutes regulating the procedure of the courts are applicable to reconsideration. 5 Hence, the Republic and the PCGG, on behalf of PHI, filed an
actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage, thus, answer to the complaint-in-intervention dated June 19, 1990 and November 2,
retrospective in such sense and to that extent. 1990, respectively.

PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Meanwhile, PHI filed a Manifestation and Motion, stating that Imelda Cojuangco
Sandiganbayan. and the Estate of Ramon U. Cojuangco claim ownership of PHI. Thus, on May
31, 1993, petitioner moved for leave to admit amended complaint-in-intervention
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. to implead the said claimants.6
Quisumbing, Torres & Evangelista for petitioner.
373 On June 11, 1993, the Sandiganbayan, in open court, admitted the amended
complaint-in-intervention.7Consequently, amended answers-in-intervention were
VOL. 333, JUNE 8, 2000 373
filed by the Republic and the PHI on July 2, 1993.
Yuchengco vs. Republic
Balbino V. Diego for Imelda Marcos. On the other hand, the Estate of Ramon Cojuangco and Imelda O. Cojuangco
Siguion Reyna, Montecillo & Ongsiako for respondents (hereinafter, the Cojuangcos) filed a motion to dismiss8 the amended complaint-
Cojuangco. in-intervention, dated August 25, 1993, on the ground of failure to state a cause

3
of action and lack of jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan over the case, inasmuch Petitioner filed a rejoinder 12 dated November 29, 1993, maintaining that
as petitioner did not pay the correct docket fees. They argued that the amended- no docket fees are payable to the Sandiganbayan, pursuant to Section
complaint-in-intervention failed to state the amount of the claim or the value of 11 of Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended, which provides:
the property subject of the complaint, in violation of the doctrine laid down
in Manchester Development Corporation, et al. v. Court of Appeals.9 Proceedings free of charge. All proceedings in the
Sandiganbayan shall be conducted at no cost to the complainant
On September 6, 1993, petitioner filed a second amended complaint-in- and/or his witnesses.
intervention with motion for leave. Later, on September 28, 1993, he also
opposed the motion to dismiss filed by PHI and the Cojuangcos on September In their sur-rejoinder filed on January 28, 1994, 13 respondents PHI and
28, 1993. 10 the Cojuangcos countered that the reason for the above-quoted Section
11 of P.D. 1606 is that the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan at the time
PHI and the Cojuangcos filed a reply 11 alleging that since the amended of its enactment was limited to criminal actions. With the expansion of the
complaint-in-intervention is substantially an action for the recovery of ownership Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction to include civil cases, the payment of docket
and possession of shareholdings in the Philippine Telecommunications fees has become a jurisdictional requirement.
Investment Corporation (PTIC), Section 7 (a) of Rule 141 of the Rules of Court
applies, to wit: On February 8, 1994 14, petitioner replied that the Sandiganbayan has no
power or discretion to ignore or amend the provision in Section 11 of P.D.
Sec. 7. Clerks of Regional Trial Courts. 1606 simply on the basis of public policy. Petitioner points out that
Executive Order No. 14 issued by President Corazon C. Aquino did not
(a) For filing an action or a permissive counter-claim or money claim amend the said provision, hence, payment of docket fees in the
against an estate not based on judgment, or for filing with leave of court a Sandiganbayan is legally without basis.
third-party, fourth-party, etc. complaint, or a complaint in intervention . . .
if . . . the stated value of the property in litigation is: On September 21, 1994, petitioner re-filed his second amended
complaint-in-intervention 15 with motion to admit, wherein he sought to
1. Not more than P20,000.00 P120.00 include Y Realty Corporation as co-plaintiff-in-intervention and to join
Imelda R. Marcos as the representative of the Estate of Ferdinand
2. More than P20,000.00 but less than P40,000.00 150.00 Marcos.

3. P40,000.00 or more but less than P60,000.00 200.00 On October 11, 1994, PHI and the Cojuangcos opposed the motion to
admit second amended complaint-in-intervention, 16 contending that
jurisdictional issues should first be resolved before the most recent
4. P60,000.00 or more but less than P80,000.00 250.00
motion is considered.
5. P80,000.00 or more but less than P100,000.00 400.00
A motion for early resolution 17 was filed by petitioner on October 27,
1994. He averred that since the main issues in the motion to dismiss filed
6. P100,000.00 or more but less than P150,000.00 600.00 by PHI and the Cojuangcos dwell on payment of docket fees and the
amount thereof, which may possibly involve the jurisdiction of the
7. For each P1,000.00 in excess of P150,000.00 5.00 Sandiganbayan, and it is unclear whether the filing of the complaint-in-
intervention tolled the running of the 10-year prescriptive period, there is
Further, respondents PHI and the Cojuangcos contend that as the action a need for the Sandiganbayan to resolve the motion to dismiss as soon
seeks to litigate the ownership and disposition of properties consisting of as possible.
subject shares, the amount of docket fees must be based on the total
value of the same.

4
On March 31, 1995, petitioner moved that he be allowed to post a PTIC, which has a more recent value of P1,078,260,896.56, he should be
bond, 18 to answer for whatever docket fees he may be held to pay, with made to pay at least the sum of P5,391,154.35.
the prayer that the running of the prescriptive period be deemed tolled
pending the resolution by the Sandiganbayan of the motion to dismiss. On May 7, 1996, 30 the Sandiganbayan denied PHI's and the Cojuangcos'
motion for reconsideration of its April 17, 1995 Resolution.
In a Resolution dated April 17, 1995, 19 the Sandiganbayan deferred the
resolution of the motion to dismiss until trial, as the grounds raised Thereafter, respondents PHI and the Cojuangcos filed their answer to the
therein do not appear to be indubitable. amended complaint-in-intervention. 31

Meanwhile, PHI and the Cojuangcos opposed petitioner's motion to post On June 11, 1996, petitioner moved that the amount of P14,425.00 be
bond on the ground that the same should not be construed as a refunded to him, 32 insisting that proceedings in the Sandiganbayan
substitute for the actual payment of the proper docket fees, because should be free of charge.
payment of docket fees should not be subject to any contingency. 20
The Sandiganbayan, on October 9, 1996, issued the assailed resolution
On the other hand, petitioner moved for the partial reconsideration of the granting the motion to dismiss and denying petitioner's motion to admit
Resolution dated April 17, 1995 insofar as the deferment of the issue on second amended complaint-in-intervention. 33
payment of docket fees and the amount thereof. In the alternative,
petitioner prayed that his motion to post bond be granted. 21 PHI and the Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration 34 dated October 30, 1996,
Cojuangcos also moved for the reconsideration of the April 17, 1995 and PHI and the Cojuangcos filed their opposition. 35 The Republic filed a
Resolution. 22 manifestation 36 dated December 24, 1996 adopting the arguments raised
by PHI and the Cojuangcos.
Meanwhile, petitioner prayed for the denial of the motion to dismiss in
view of the passage of Republic Act No. 7975 23 which, like Executive On October 6, 1997, the Sandiganbayan denied petitioner's motion for
Order 14, did not amend Section 11 of P.D. 1606. 24 reconsideration. 37 Hence this petition.

In the meantime, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari before this Court, As earlier stated, the main issue to be resolved in the case at bar is
docketed as G.R. No. 123264, 25assailing public respondent's decision to whether or not petitioner is barred from asserting his alleged causes of
defer adjudication on the issues raised in PHI's and the Cojuangcos' action against respondents by reason of non-payment of the proper
motion to dismiss. The petition for certiorari was dismissed by this Court docket fees.
for being premature. 26
The Sandiganbayan cited several cases spanning from 1932 to 1987 to
On March 29, 1996, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution denying the effect that it is not simply the filing of the complaint or appropriate
petitioner's motion to post bond and ordering petitioner (plaintiff-in- initiatory pleading, but the payment of the prescribed docket fee, that
intervention therein) to pay the balance of the docket fee in the amount of vests the trial court with jurisdiction over the subject matter or nature of
P14,425.00. 27 Petitioner paid with reservation. 28 the action. 38

PHI and the Cojuangcos filed a motion for reconsideration, 29 arguing that The ruling that the timely filing of correct docket fees is jurisdictional is all
the Sandiganbayan erred in the computation of the docket fees and in too familiar. It should be noted, however, that the pronouncements of this
allowing petitioner to pay additional docket fees beyond the prescriptive Court on the matter have always been influenced by the peculiar legal
period. They again invoked Rule 141, Section 7 (a) of the Rules of Court and equitable circumstances surrounding each case. For instance,
and averred that the PTIC, registered in the name of PHI, has a stated the Lazaro v. Eudencia 39 ruling was in accordance with the then
value of P1.6 billion. Accordingly, as petitioner claims to own 31% of applicable law, i.e., Section 76 of Act No. 190 as amended by Act No.
3615. In Malimit v. Degamo 40, this Court ruled that the date of payment
5
of docket fees and not the date of mailing is considered the date of filing In the said case, the payment of the correct fee within "a reasonable
of a petition for quo warranto. In Garcia v. Vasquez 41, this Court initially time" but in no case beyond its applicable prescriptive or reglementary
stated that a docket fee must be paid for a second will executed by the period was allowed. In another case 45 decided after Manchester, this
same decedent. Subsequently, on a motion for reconsideration, this Court made some more distinctions:
Court reversed itself and held that the initial payment for the first will
presented for probate was sufficient compliance. This Court was even Two situations may arise. One is where the complaint or similar
more liberal in Magaspi v. Ramolete, 42 where the docket fee was paid pleading sets out a claim purely for money or damages and there
upon the filing of the complaint. It turned out later, after the complaint was is no precise statement of the amounts being claimed. In this
amended, that the payment was insufficient. This Court ruled that under event the rule is that the pleading will "not be accepted nor
the circumstances, the case was docketed upon the first payment and admitted, or shall otherwise be expunged from the record." In
the trial court already acquired jurisdiction. However, the correct fee other words, the complaint or pleading may be dismissed or the
based on the amended complaint was required to be paid. claims as to which the amounts are unspecified may be
expunged, although as aforestated the Court may, on motion,
In the instant case, the Sandiganbayan adhered strictly to the rule permit amendment of the complaint and payment of the fees
enunciated in Manchester Development Corporation v. Court of provided the claim has not in the meantime become time-barred.
Appeals, 43 to wit: The other is where the pleading does specify the amount of every
claim, but the fees paid are insufficient; and here again, the rule
The Court acquires jurisdiction over any case only upon the now is that the court may allow a reasonable time for the payment
payment of the prescribed docket fee. Any amendment of the of the prescribed fees, or the balance thereof, and upon such
complaint or similar pleading will not thereby vest jurisdiction in payment, the defect is cured and the court may properly take
the Court, much less the payment of the docket fee based on the cognizance of the action, unless in the meantime prescription has
amounts sought in the amended pleading. The ruling in the set in and consequently barred the right of action.
Magaspi case, insofar as it is inconsistent with this
pronouncement is overturned and reversed. Where the action involves real property and a related claim for
damages as well, the legal fees shall be assessed on the basis of
In Manchester, this Court stated that the allegation in the body of the both (a) the value of the property and (b) the total amount of
complaint of damages suffered in the amount of P78,000,000.00, and the related damages sought. The Court acquires jurisdiction over the
omission of a specific prayer for that amount, was intended for no other action if the filing of the initiatory pleading is accompanied by the
purpose than to evade the payment of correct filing fees if not to mislead payment of the requisite fees, or, if the fees are not paid at the
the docket clerk in the assessment of the correct fee. The ruling was time of the filing of the pleading, as of the time of full payment of
intended to put a stop to such an irregularity. In the case at bar, however, the fees within such reasonable time as the court may grant,
we note that there is no such irregularity or attempt to mislead in the unless, of course, prescription has set in in the meantime. But
instant petition before us. where . . . the fees prescribed for an action involving real property
have been paid, but the amounts of certain of the related
We also note that the Manchester ruling did not become the final damages (actual, moral and nominal) being demanded are
statement on the matter. In Sun Insurance Office Ltd. v. Asuncion, 44 the unspecified, the action may not be dismissed. The Court
Court ruled: undeniably has jurisdiction over the action involving the real
property, acquiring it upon the filing of the complaint or similar
pleading and payment of the prescribed fee. And it is not divested
In the present case, a more liberal interpretation of the rules is
of that authority by the circumstance that it may not have
called for considering that, unlike Manchester, private respondent
acquired jurisdiction over the accompanying claims for damages
demonstrated his willingness to abide by the rules by paying the
because of lack of specification thereof. What should be done is
additional docket fees as required.
imply to expunge those claims for damages as to which no
amounts are stated, which is what the respondent Court did, or

6
allow, on motion, a reasonable time for the amendment of the Equitable considerations are equally significant. Unlike the basis of the
complaint so as to allege the precise amount of each item of Manchester ruling, there is no evidence in the present case that the
damages and accept payment of the requisite fees therefor within petitioner tried to evade the payment of correct fees or in any way tried to
the relevant prescriptive period. mislead that court and its employees. On the contrary, petitioner paid
dues and asked the Sandiganbayan what are the correct docket fees, if
The rule is not as simple and uncomplicated as Manchester makes it the dues paid are not accurate. When Sandiganbayan came out with its
appear. There are other determining circumstances, equally important. own computation, petitioner paid the corrected amount.
The timely filing of correct docket fees is jurisdictional, but as shown by
our decisions, considerations of law and equity come into the picture. Correctly, petitioner asserted that the Sandiganbayan's resolution,
This situation likewise obtains in the case at bar. assuming it was correct, was not something that could have been
reasonably anticipated by the ordinary litigant.
The Sandiganbayan Law itself, Presidential Decree No. 1606, provides:
Indeed, the actions of the Sandiganbayan clearly call for the application
Sec. 11. Proceedings free of charge. All proceedings in the of equitable considerations. On February 17, 1989, it admitted the
Sandiganbayan shall be conducted at no cost to the complainant complaint-in-intervention. Answers thereto were filed by PHI and the
and/or his witnesses. Cojuangcos. On June 11, 1993, the Sandiganbayan admitted the
amended complaint-in-intervention. More important, the lower court
Petitioner points out that when former President Corazon C. Aquino denied the motions to dismiss filed by respondents questioning the
issued Executive Order No. 14 in 1986 which expanded the incorrect payment of docket fees in its resolutions dated April 17, 1995,
Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction to include civil cases, she did not repeal or March 29, 1996 and May 7, 1996. Petitioner was thus led into believing,
amend Section 11 of P.D. 1606 on filing fees. long before the ten year prescriptive period expired, that its complaint-in-
intervention would stay admitted.
Similarly, when Congress in 1994 enacted Republic Act No. 7975 further
strengthening the functional and structural organization of the However, the Sandiganbayan on October 9, 1996 and October 6, 1997
Sandiganbayan, it did not amend the provision on non-payment of fees issued the Resolutions now before us in this petition for review.
even as it amended or repealed several sections of the original law. Petitioner's complaint was dismissed for non-payment of the prescribed
When Congress in 1997 passed Republic Act No. 8429 further amending docket fees, without obvious regard to the implications of the reversal of
P.D. 1606, it did not touch the section on non-payment of court fees. If its earlier rulings.
Congress in repealing various parts of P.D. 1606 did not touch Section
11, what is the basis of the Sandiganbayan's ruling on repeal or Moreover, on October 27, 1994, petitioner filed a motion for the resolution
amendment? of the issue on correct docket fees. When no decision was forthcoming,
petitioner on March 31, 1995 filed a motion to post bond to answer for
In the resolution submitted to us for review, the Sandiganbayan whatever additional fees that may be assessed later. On April 17, 1995,
emphasized that when P.D. No. 1606 was issued, the jurisdiction of the the Sandiganbayan decided to defer the resolution of respondents'
anti-graft court was limited to criminal actions. The Sandiganbayan now motions to dismiss until trial. Petitioner even elevated the inaction of the
tries civil cases. While we are inclined to sustain the ruling that correct Sandiganbayan to the Supreme Court on a petition for certiorari but this
filing fees in civil cases must be paid in all courts, including the was dismissed for being premature. It can thus be seen that, far from
Sandiganbayan, this does not preclude a ruling that, in this case, the committing the irregularity illustrated in Manchester, petitioner did the
petitioner acted in justifiable good faith. There was ample reason for opposite in this case.
uncertainty and doubt on the intervenor's part not merely as to the
correctness of the amount to be paid but whether or not docket fees More specifically, petitioner's alleged causes of action before the
should be paid at all. Sandiganbayan constitute the following:

7
1. Claims on the 6% stockholdings in PTIC which he alleged to It should be noted that when the issue on docket fees was raised,
have bought from Gregorio Romulo and Leonides Virata but were petitioner submitted the determination of the same to the sound
purportedly transferred to the Ramon U. Cojuangco group by discretion of the Sandiganbayan. As earlier stated, he sought for the
coercion, duress and force majeure (Martial Law); immediate resolution of this issue as early as October 27, 1994. In the
alternative, petitioner proposed to post a bond to answer for the docket
2. Claims on the 25% shares of General Telephone & Electronics fees, if such are payable. He even filed a petition for certiorari, docketed
Corporation (GTE) in Philippine Telecommunications Investment as G.R. No. 123264, to seek an early resolution of this issue.
Corporation (PTIC) which petitioner was prevented from acquiring
by virtue of a "put and call" agreement with GTE; Clearly, petitioner did not sleep on his rights, and prescription has not set
in to bar his right to seek judicial relief. The essence of the statute of
3. (Alternative Third Cause of Action) Claims on the 4.6% shares limitations is to prevent fraudulent claims arising from unwarranted length
in PTIC. of time and not to defeat actions asserted on the honest belief that they
were sufficiently submitted for judicial determination.
Considering that petitioner seeks to recover properties, the ownership
and possession of which he was allegedly deprived through fraud, duress To punish petitioner for public respondent's failure to timely decide an
and/or coercion, we hold that, assuming hypothetically these averments issue pivotal to the success of his case would be setting a bad precedent.
to be true, the legal relationship of constructive trust was present among It would give trial courts unbridled power and an unfair weapon to
the parties concerned in the said transactions. Constructive trust is that frustrate the filing of actions. We hold that public respondent's belated
created by reason of equity to answer the demands of justice and prevent action after prolonged inaction on the issue of petitioner's payment of
unjust enrichment. It arises against one, who, by fraud, duress or abuse docket fees is a supervening event beyond the independent will and
of confidence, obtains or holds the legal right to property which he ought control of petitioner that tolled the running of the prescriptive period.
not, in equity and good conscience, hold. 46 Article 1154 of the Civil Code is applicable by parallelism, to wit:

Correspondingly, actions thereon prescribe after ten (10) years as The period during which the obligee was prevented by fortuitous
provided by Article 1144 of the Civil Code: event from enforcing his right is not reckoned against him.

The following actions must be brought within ten (10) years from As earlier stated, equity and the extraordinary circumstances surrounding
the time the right of action accrues: the present case necessitate this ruling. For among the parties in the
case at bar, the Sandiganbayan is the most equipped to afford petitioner
1. Upon a written contract; the opportunity to present his claims. Not only that, but going back to the
1awphil

pronouncements of this Court in Sun Insurance Office, Ltd. (SIOL)


v. Asuncion, 47 where we recognized that the sufficiency of the docket
2. Upon an obligation created by law;
fees is a matter for the determination of the clerk of court and/or his duly
authorized docket clerk or clerk in-charge, the Sandiganbayan could
3. Upon a judgment. have immediately drawn petitioner's attention if its clerk of court found
difficulty in determining the amount of chargeable docket fees from a
(Emphasis provided). reading of the complaint. Even in the celebrated case of Manchester
Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 48 the trial court directed
Under normal circumstances, petitioner's cause of action should have the plaintiff therein to rectify the flaws in its amended complaint. That
prescribed on February 26, 1996, a month before petitioner was ordered way, not only could the Sandiganbayan have seasonably resolved the
by the Sandiganbayan to pay docket fees or two months before the issues on docket fees but it could very well have timely settled petitioner's
docket fees were actually paid in the corrected amount of P14,825.00. dilemma on what to do and what was required to preserve his rights.
However, we hold that said payment could not be construed as belatedly
made such as to foreclose the prosecution of his claims.
8
Courts are mandated to promptly administer justice. Having the inherent As a final note, petitioner's manifestation that he is withdrawing some of the
power to amend and control the processes and orders, to make them causes of action alleged in his complaints-in-intervention and the subsequent
conformable to law and justice 49 we have the avowed duty to uphold the amendments thereto should be addressed to the Sandiganbayan for proper
right of all persons to a speedy disposition of their cases and avert the determination and action. This should be taken into consideration by the
precipitate loss of rights. Sandiganbayan in determining anew the docket fees payable by petitioner.

While it may be argued that petitioner could have very well amended his WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is partially GRANTED. The
complaint and alleged the monetary values of the properties he seeks to questioned Resolutions are SET ASIDE. Petitioner is ordered to submit to public
recover to comply with Rule 141, Section 7(a) of the Rules of Court, we respondent Sandiganbayan the value of the properties he seeks to recover and
find, pro hac vice, that petitioner acted in good faith when he contended to pay the proper docket fees therefor within thirty (30) days upon determination
that proceedings before the Sandiganbayan are free of charge. The thereof either by the Sandiganbayan or its clerk of court, which in turn is directed
present rule must, however, be stressed: parties filing civil actions before to act with dispatch on the matter.
the Sandiganbayan are liable to pay the required docket fees. The
situation only differs in the case at bar because of petitioner's honest SO ORDERED.
conviction manifested in his filing of a reservation for the payments he
made, after having been ordered by the Sandiganbayan on March 29,
1996 to pay the balance of P14,425.00 and after the court denied his
motion to post bond pending final resolution of the motion to dismiss.

Be that as it may, petitioner's position that subsequent amendments 50 to


PD 1606 did not expressly repeal Section 11 thereof is untenable.
Petitioner failed to appreciate that the expansion of the Sandiganbayan's
jurisdiction to include civil cases impliedly amended the same and
Section 1, Rule IV, Part I of the Revised Rules of the Sandiganbayan.
Moreover, the Supreme Court enjoys exclusive power to promulgate the
rules on pleading, practice, and procedure.

In addition, Republic Act No. 7975 51 amended Section 9 of P.D. 1606 to


read as follows:

Rules of Procedure. The Rules of Court promulgated by the


Supreme Court shall apply to all cases and proceedings filed with
the Sandiganbayan. . . .

Hence, Rule 141 Section 7(a) of the Rules of Court applies to petitioner's
complaint and/or amended complaints-in-intervention.

Petitioner argues that R.A. 7975, having been promulgated on March 30, 1995
should not be retroactively applied. This is not so, as statutes regulating the
procedure of the courts are applicable to actions pending and undetermined at
the time of their passage, thus, retrospective in such sense and to that extent. 52